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Vol State adds solar power and electric vehicle charging

By Hollie Deese

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-56-41-amVolunteer State Community College is committed to making environmental changes on campus, and the latest step is the addition of solar panels to the college Wood Campus Center. The effort was led by the Vol State Sustainability Committee, a group of students, faculty and staff who meet to consider new projects utilizing the campus sustainability fee.

The four panels, which cost $6,686, can produce 1,124 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

The Vol State Sustainability Committee has also installed energy-efficient LED lighting in the Fox building on the Gallatin campus and in Springfield, at the Highland Crest campus. Another environmental measure for the college was taking resource efficiency steps for the new Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities Building to be LEED Certified.

Part of that project is an electric vehicle charging station near the Thigpen Library. There are two power cords available for recharging electric cars. Committee members say future possibilities for campus include solar umbrellas that would provide cell phone and laptop charging stations for students working outside at picnic tables.

Next up, they will be tackling water bottle waste on campus.

“We just approved a request for up to ten hydration stations for the other campuses and for Gallatin campus buildings that don’t have one yet,” said committee chair and associate professor for geography, Keith Bell, in a release.

Those filtered water hydration stations encourage the re-use of drinking containers. Plastic water bottles are considered to be one of the biggest challenges to waste disposal, with waste industry consultant R.W. Beck, Inc. estimating 40 million water bottles are put into landfills each day. Learn more about Volunteer State Community College at volstate.edu.screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-56-55-am


Sumner Academy students study environment at Barrier Island

By Hollie Deese

This fall, the 5th grade students from Sumner Academy in Gallatin attended the Barrier Island

Environmental Camp in mid-September, located on St. John’s Island south of Charleston. A twenty-year tradition, the students spent 2 ½ days learning about the sea, the estuary, tidal marshes, reptiles and more.

Using the beach as a classroom, the students were led in the study of ocean life. Students were able to use the seining nets and catch and identify ocean animals. They also enjoyed a dolphin tour of the estuary and rivers that join it. Keeping an eye out for dolphins, they even saw an eagle nest the size of a Volkswagen car. Later on the beach, the eagles flew over fishing to feed their babies.

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Another class the students participated in was Lets Sea, a long walk down the beach exploring erosion, the role of sea grass and dunes and finally a walk through the tidal marsh to a tidal pool known as the Mud Pit. Arriving at low tide, the pool was full of shells and small crabs and mud. Of course the kids all had a blast getting filthy.

Another class, It Skinks, led the students in a study of local reptiles where they were able to touch sea turtle shells and compare them to live tortoises and terrapins. Students held a corn snake and everyone got to touch an alligator.

By the end of the trip they had used a compass, found treasure, learned about tracks and even watched the shrimp boats light up like Christmas for an educational trip that was engaging and entertaining too. Visit sumneracademy.org for more information.

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