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GEL-IN students receive an education in conservation

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Seven from county work on

By Ron Benningfield

Seven young LaRue Countians are learning to be leaders in conserving and protecting our natural resources both in LaRue County and elsewhere.

The seven enrolled in the Green Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (GEL-IN) at LaRue County High School are juniors Niccole Carter and Hannah Partridge; 2009 LCHS graduates Max McCubbin, Bethany Miller, Samantha Sidebottom and Aletha Tharp; and 2008 graduate Elizabeth Upton.

“We hope to educate our participants about things that we can all do to help our environment,” said Roy Walker, LCHS teacher who is in charge of the project.  “We want them to become environmental leaders and to share with others what they have learned through their ‘going green’ summer experience.”

The institute, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, started June 23 and continues through July 31. Participants work 7.5 hours per day and are paid $7.25 per hour. 

“They are receiving an education about our environment in the classroom through lectures, videos, and guest speakers,” said Walker. “They are also placed on local job sites to get hands-on experience.”

This is the first year for the program. As part of their experience, the participants divided into groups competing for “The Best of LaRue County” project.

For the competition, each group gave a 15-minute Power Point presentation about an environmental issue that they chose that concerns LaRue County. The winners, whose project was entitled, “The Run of the River,” designed a hydroelectric plant.

For placing first, they each received a computer and printer. LaRue County Judge-executive Tommy Turner, Hodgenville Mayor Terry Cruse and LCHS teacher Josh Henderson judged the presentations.

“Max, Bethany, and I developed a plan for using the water at the dam behind the recycling center to produce enough electricity to power both the center and the fire department next door,” Tharp said.

An electrical engineer whom they contacted said the site could potentially generate 1.7 kilowatts of electricity per hour. The group estimated startup costs at $6,000.

The other team, who lost by only two points, chose an outdoor classroom to be built at Hodgenville Elementary School and a rain garden complete with plants to be added at Hodgenville’s Creekfront.

“We would have some land leveled at Creekfront, then add the plants which would catch a lot of sunlight,” said Hannah Partridge who teamed with Carter, Upton and Sidebottom. Though the projects were hypothetical, both groups thought they were feasible.

The Run of the River group will present their project Friday at the Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown where they will be in competition with projects from eight area counties. 

Each member of the winning presentation there will receive a laptop computer.