Biodiesel headed for Kentucky classrooms

By Luke Geiver | September 20, 2010
Posted Oct. 12, 2010

Biodiesel will soon be part of the curriculum for some Kentucky schools. After receiving a $10,000 TogetherGreen fellowship from an alliance between Toyota and the Audubon Society, Kenya Stump, the manager of the environmental assistance branch of the Kentucky division of compliance, will form the Kentucky Biofuels for Schools Program.

The objectives of the program include encouraging Kentucky high schools to teach a biofuel-based curriculum, enable the production of biodiesel in the schools and make it possible for the participating schools and communities to use biodiesel. "Teaching biodiesel especially in a laboratory setting makes perfect sense," Stump told Biodiesel Magazine. "It provides great hands-on experience, students get immediate feedback and it provides a great avenue for teaching concepts such as pollution prevention and resource conservation."

The primary components of the program include participation by the schools, according to Stump, and development of public-private partnerships. Stump is still developing participants for the program that range from the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center to the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition. "We have also [reached out to] biodiesel producers within Kentucky and are currently working to set up meetings and bring them on board as potential school sponsors and mentors," Stump said. Several schools have been identified for the program through the state's Green and Health Schools program and Stump hopes to have a diverse mix of schools selected that vary in geographic location and experience with biofuels.

"We know that there are schools just interested in teaching concepts, while others are ready to implement laboratory exercises and actually start producing biodiesel in small quantities," Stump said. To do so, the program is currently in search of sponsors that can purchase and provide biodiesel processing equipment for the schools. "These sponsors would also act as mentors to the local high schools as the begin implementation."

For Audubon President, David Yarnold, Stump is already doing her part. "Kenya is the kind of person who can make a real difference in the health of our environment and the quality of our future," Yarnold said. Stump notes the importance of biofuels program for the students as well. "Once a student learns how to take a waste product and turn it into a usable commodity like fuel, then that is a lesson that will stay with them forever and have multiple applications in their lives and careers. Biofuels education teaches students a different way of looking at the world around them."

For those interested in becoming involved in the program there are three main ways: sponsor a school's purchase of equipment, become a partner to promote and support the program, or be a mentor to a school. After one year of the program, Stump will evaluate and report on the measurable results.
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