Elizabeth Espino is a natural born teacher. She has been for the majority of her life.
Elizabeth began working for TP&L in May of 2022 when it acquired Harvest Energy Services. Originally, she worked in the field as a Construction Technician, but she quickly became a trainer, and most recently, Espino is working as a Certified GWO Instructor– combining all of the knowledge, skills, and experiences she has acquired throughout her career and her life.
Espino grew up in a small town in Kansas and went to Kansas State University to pursue a degree in agriculture.
“I studied plant and soil sciences with a focus on biotechnology, rather than crop production,” Espino stated. “As an undergrad, I worked with genetics and GMOs for the USDA. When I graduated, I became a K-State Research & Extension Agent for my home county. I worked as a public educator for the whole agriculture and natural resources sector, and I really enjoyed it. I was able to get into crop fields, offer local programs and teach kids and adults. I have a background in education that has supported my career as an instructor.”
Following that chapter, Espino left her hometown for a time and began working as a laborer in the wind industry.
“I literally started from the bottom,” she laughed. “And I began seeking new opportunities as a laborer. And then I got hired on with Harvest after a period of being laid off.”
Espino said being laid off was hard, but she expected it. When she began working at Harvest, she knew there was potential that she could get laid off from that job as well, but she had a plan.
“I came to the training [for Harvest] and I really liked the training and atmosphere at the Denver Training Center (DTC); intuitively, I asked if there was anything I could do in the meantime while people were getting laid off,” she said. “I emailed the right person, and he gave me a heads up leading to an opportunity to stay at the training center. I was doing curriculum development in which my past experiences working as an extension agent came in handy. I literally just started working from the bottom and I worked hard and worked my way up to being a trainer and I just love it.”
Espino could have just rested on her laurels and hoped that maybe she wouldn’t get laid off. The wind industry is a growing one, but it’s also an ever-changing one. Espino saw an in, however, and she pitched herself to the right people and she has proven herself to be a valuable commodity. This is especially impressive given the fact that there are not a whole lot of women working within the wind industry. But before anybody can claim she was the benefactor of ‘Diversity,” Espino is quick to point out that it was not her gender that got her a job – it was her knowledge and her skillset.
“I don’t really look at it as being a woman; I just think of it as working hard and setting an intention and focusing on what you want,” she said. “I do recognize that there are not a lot of us here, and I want more women to feel comfortable in the industry and to be able to speak up and do what they want to do with the industry, and with their careers, because there’s a lot of opportunity. I had a female foreman and she was younger than me and she inspired me to go out and get better. I also worked in an all-female crew as well, but that was really rare for us.”
Espino doesn’t just want to be seen as an example for women within the industry; she wants to be seen as an example for anybody – anybody who wants to work hard, anybody who wants to carve their own path, anyone who wants to take their destiny into their own hands.
She loves this industry and she is grateful to be a part of it.
“I think it’s the well-roundedness of it all,” Espino said. “There are technical aspects to it, and safety aspects. We cover hydraulics, mechanical, electrical modules. We also cover first aid, fire awareness, manual handling, working at heights and so many other topics. The organization we are affiliated with is Global Wind Organisation (GWO.) I am currently working on the course development of GWO Slinger Signaler, which is similar to rigging and signaling. That’s been a challenge for me lately, but I have a lot of support from my coworkers and my managers. It’s been a great mix of everything and I’m never bored.”
Espino likes the work that she does but, even more than that, she likes the people with whom she works.
“My favorite part of the job is the people I work with. The training team has been incredibly supportive of my growth and are significant mentors in my life,” she said. “I also enjoy the techs that come through. I love making them laugh or them making me laugh, hearing their crazy stories, and learning from them. That’s my favorite part of the job; the people.”
Along with the whole training team; one of her most impactful mentors is – Eric Wilson.
“His story is amazing and he is such a great asset to the company,” she said. “He is a great leader and his work creates numerous jobs. He has a lot of insight and a lot of experience in the wind industry. He’s definitely a trailblazer.”
Espino, herself, is a bit of a trailblazer. She’d never admit it, but her colleagues have said it of her. She works hard. She bets on herself and, more often than not, those bets pay off. She has proven herself to be a phenomenal trainer, a phenomenal teacher. But, even more than that, she’s proven herself to be a kind, loyal, thoughtful person who tries to better herself, and others. She works with her brain but she leads with her heart, and you can’t teach that.