With only half a year left in his time with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) as an AmeriCorps Vista member, Adam Kuthart has a lot to look back on from his work in Pine River.
Kuthart came to RREAL in April 2011 with a solar energy engineering master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Unlike other Vista members, Kuthart never went to any other assignments, but stayed at RREAL for his entire time with the program.
“For me, I was looking for something specifically with solar energy. I don’t think there’s another Vista position that would be like that,” Kuthart said.
RREAL offered exactly the type of experience he wanted, though the experience did require that he adjust to urban life. He was born and raised just outside of Seattle.
“This was just a really good fit with my knowledge and skills and the kind of stuff I wanted to do. I really like RREAL’s mission. That’s what brought me out here,” Kuthart said.
Kuthart’s duties with RREAL include experiments, design and research, as well as the occasional installation.
“As a Vista member my role is to build the capacity of the organization so they can do more once I leave. I don’t do as much of the direct stuff, but it is good for me to go out in the field and get hands-on and understand better what I’m doing. I do some of both, but I’m in the office a lot more,” Kuthart said.
During his time in the area, Kuthart took up popular local hobbies and activities like biking, running, cross country skiing and hockey. During winter, Kuthart and friends occasionally meet for pickup games at the ice skating rink in Pine River.
Kuthart met many different people in rural Minnesota, but perhaps his most fulfilling encounter came from a road trip to a monthly training meeting in Little Falls.
“I’ve met a lot of nice people. A lot has happened. I met my wife and got married this last spring. That was really big, obviously,” Kuthart said.
Annie, Adam’s wife, had been a Vista leader. They met while she was just finishing her contract, but sparks didn’t really fly between them until later.
“We didn’t think about each other too much at the time,” Kuthart said.
They met again when Kuthart and another Vista member went to a training meeting in Little Falls and stayed at her home for the night. It is a common practice for Vista members to stay with former Vista members in situations like this.
“We just started talking and connected that night,” he said.
Adam and Annie married May 26, 2013, and they handled one aspect of the union in a novel way. You see, Adam was not born Adam Kuthart.
“I was Kutrich and her name was Reinhart. We decided we both wanted the same thing but we didn’t want to go with hyphenation. To me it’s just longer and awkward. We thought Kuthart sounded good so we went with that,” he said.
Adam had been living in Breezy Point and working at RREAL until that time, but after they married, the couple moved to Baxter where Annie could be closer to work. Adam still works for RREAL.
Though his time with Vista is nearing its end, Adam intends to put his experience to good use. He plans to move back to Seattle and continue work in the solar industry.
“I would like to keep working with solar energy if I can. So I’m going to be looking into that,” he said.
Travis Grimler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook.