While global warming is on the mind of almost everyone nowadays, two students at Harwood Union High School are using their education to take direct action.
Gabriela Meade, Waterbury, and Lorne Nix, Waterbury Center, have studied Harwood's current energy usage. Together they have developed an informative presentation that was presented to the Harwood School Board on April 25.
The presentation educated the board about the school's energy consumption and, more specifically, the use of lights. The presentation was designed to convince the board to retrofit many light bulbs and light fixtures as well as install motion sensors in rooms where appropriate.
Meade and Nix see this as not only making Harwood a more environmentally friendly or green school but as a chance to make their school a model from which the entire community could learn. Their hope is that individual homes consider making the same changes and, better yet, businesses in the area would do the same.
Meade and Nix hope their presentation will eventually reduce Harwood's carbon footprint, and result in a sizable savings to the school's budget. Meade and Nix spent more than 100 hours, much of which was outside of their civics class entitled Creating Sustainable Communities.
During that time, they worked closely with two nonprofit organizations. These community partners were an integral part of this service-learning experience. Both community partners are noted statewide for their efforts to reduce energy usage and consumption in Vermont homes, schools and businesses.
The first community partner is Efficiency Vermont, the nation's first statewide provider of energy efficiency services. Efficiency Vermont is operated by an independent, nonprofit organization under contract to the Vermont Public Service Board. Efficiency Vermont provides technical advice, financial assistance and design guidance to make Vermont homes, farms, schools and businesses more energy efficient.
Lauren Mattison, a representative from Efficiency Vermont, gave much of her time in actual meetings and ongoing emails with Meade, Nix, their civics teacher, Jean Berthiaume, and the school's plant manager, Tracy Holden. Mattison's involvement supported Meade and Nix in a successful study of the problem of energy waste at Harwood.
Another community partner to be recognized in this educational endeavor is the Vermont Energy Education Program. VEEP works to advance a deep understanding of what energy is and how to use it wisely, by enabling energy choices that will result in a sustainable community, vital economy and healthy environment. Science skills are a pre-requisite for developing such an understanding.
VEEP representatives Andy Shapiro and Eveline Killian gave of their time by providing best-practice skills to both the students and their teacher. In the end, the collective knowledge of a community and a careful study of the problem empowered Gabriela Meade and Lorne Nix to take civic action within their school and greater community.