One federal initiative sees wind development in rural areas is one of the “most promising crops of the 21st century,” and it’s funding programs in rural schools to educate students on the importance of wind as an alternative energy source.
Wind for Schools launched in Colorado with one small wind turbine in 2005 with federal support from Wind Powering America and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The goal was to enable rural school districts to install wind turbines that would be used to teach students about renewable energy.
Wind for Schools projects now exist in 11 states: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Virginia, and 35 are expected to participate in the future.
Under the program, small wind turbines are installed at rural elementary and secondary schools, and Wind Application Centers are developed at nearby higher education institutions. Teachers are trained on how to use wind turbine in instruction, and college students help install the wind systems at schools.
The Kansas grants came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Kansas. The four school districts participating in the program are Central Plains USD 112, Eudora USD 491, Halstead-Bentley USD 440, and Jefferson West USD 340. The program is being administered in Kansas by Kansas State University’s Wind Applications Center.
The center has installed turbines in 13 schools since starting in 2008, and seven more are in the works. The center hope to install five turbines per year at rural schools throughout the state.
In the news release from Wind Powering America, national project leader for Winds for Schools Charles Newcomb said he believes even the smallest projects promoting wind energy can make a lasting difference.
Wind energy provides significant jobs and economic development impacts that are realized when the right policies and public support are brought to bear. And, from an industry growth perspective, the lessons that these students are learning by navigating the federal incentive landscape will prove invaluable and relevant as they enter the wind energy workforce as the project developers, analysts, and engineers of tomorrow," he said.
Wind Powering America has a ton of information on how anyone who’s interested could replicate the program. And, if you want to see energy production from some of the Kansas schools with wind turbines, check out this site. Pretty cool!
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.