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Local school system turns to APSU students to learn more about renewable energy

Last week, several Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) science teachers became students again, and a few Austin Peay State University students became their teachers.

A month ago, a group of science teachers contacted Deanna Hensley, Chi Epsilon Mu (XEM) Chemistry Club vice president, to ask her to coordinate with SOARE (Students Organized to Advance Renewable Energy) to make a presentation on renewable energy.
Last week, several Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) science teachers became students again, and a few Austin Peay State University students became their teachers.

A month ago, a group of science teachers contacted Deanna Hensley, Chi Epsilon Mu (XEM) Chemistry Club vice president, to ask her to coordinate with SOARE (Students Organized to Advance Renewable Energy) to make a presentation on renewable energy.

Since the Chemistry Club is endeavoring to become a Green Chemistry Chapter through several efforts, including sponsoring a Green Seminar Series, Hensley agreed. About 10 local science teachers attended the seminar in Sundquist Science Complex.

Jessica Cameron, SOARE president, and Dr. Joe Schiller, associate professor of biology and SOARE adviser, gave the presentation. Hensley and other members of XEM Chemistry Club conducted demonstrations to illustrate different types of energy sources.

A relatively new activist group, SOARE is working to raise awareness among students, faculty and staff about the need to buy and use renewable energy. Currently, SOARE members are asking permission of faculty to address classes briefly to encourage APSU students to support the upcoming Renewable Energy Initiative.

Through their efforts this summer and fall, SOARE managed to get this referendum on the Oct. 9-19 Homecoming ballotperhaps the most popular ballot of the year.

Through this referendum, the Austin Peay student body will have a chance to vote for a $10-per-semester fee to help fund APSU's purchase of more than 10 percent of its electricity from renewable energy through the Tennessee Valley Authority's Green Power Switch program.

According to Schiller, universities are comparable in size to small cities. “They possess large ecological footprints and wield considerable economic power,” Schiller said. “Using this ‘purchasing' power, universities across Tennessee are beginning to take action to minimize their environmental impacts.”

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee Technological University have enacted programs to buy Green Power and promote energy efficiency by creating new student fees.

Thanks to a renewable energy fee passed two years ago, UT-Knoxville's diesel vehicles are powered by biodiesel made on campus from the campus food service's waste cooking oil.

For more information about the Renewable Energy Initiative, contact Cameron by e-mail at jcameron15@apmail.apsu.edu or Schiller by telephone at (931) 221-7249 or by e-mail at schillerj@apsu.edu. -- Dennie B. Burke