Daily Video

August 21, 2009

Oklahoma Youth Find New Career Prospects in Wind Energy

While Oklahoma has long been associated with oil and natural gas production, some of the state’s young people are turning to its burgeoning wind turbine industry for jobs amidst a recession and global energy crisis.

Oklahoma’s secretary of commerce and tourism, Natalie Shirley expects the wind turbine industry to generate $2 billion in business revenues over the next 10 years. A naturally windy state, she predicts that Oklahoma could become the second-highest wind energy provider in North America by 2030.

In this installment of the Generation Next series, which follows young people as they forge new paths in tough economic times, NewsHour correspondent Judy Woodruff talks to young people from Oklahoma who are looking for career prospects in the wind industry.


“We can’t always depend on oil. There’s been booms, there’s been busts with the oil industry. You don’t know when the next one is, for a boom. You don’t know when the next bust is, either. But wind industry looks like it’s going to be something that’s going to be a constant. You know, the wind never really stops blowing in Oklahoma. It’s always windy here.” – Nathan Wright, Jr.

“People are excited about the opportunities that exist in green energy, and they want to know, what can I do for my environment? What can I do for my family? And what can I do for my state? And wind answers all three of those.” – Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma secretary of Commerce and Tourism.

“We’ve encouraged our kids, you know, don’t put all your ducks in one tub, you know? Have a backup plan. Don’t just have one skill. You know, be flexible, where you’re not just stuck with one thing to do, you know, like we were with him with the oil field and then having to find something else to do.” – Lisa Wright, mother

“I think it’s going to affect our generation a lot. We have to be wiser with our decisions than how we handle things with the economy, with energy than previous generations have, because if we don’t change how we’re doing something, we keep going down the same road, it’s not going to get any better, it’s not going to improve.” – Nathan Wright, Jr.

Warm Up Questions

1. What is alternative energy? What different kinds of alternative energy are there?

2. What is wind energy?

Discussion Questions

1. The United States is largely dependent on oil and natural gas for its energy production. How does that affect our economy? Our environment?

2. Do you think its important for young people to go into alternative energy? Do you think it is something you should be studying in school? Explain.

3. In what ways is the recession changing your community? Do you know people who are looking for new career paths as a result of the recession?

4. Are you interested in a career that has been affected by the recession?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

Generation Next

  • Tags:

  • Related Stories

    Tooltip of related stories

    More Articles

    Tooltip of more video block

    Submit Your Student Voice

    NewsHour Extra will not use contact information for any purpose other than our own records. We do not share information with any other organization.

    More Videos