The recent surge of interest in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle education has the NAFTC exploring additional educational avenues, including secondary schools. With this thought in mind, Al Ebron, NAFTC Executive Director and Judy Moore, NAFTC Assistant Director Communications visited Lincoln County High School in southern WV to discuss the school’s entrepreneurial undertakings with the creation of the first biodiesel production center at a public school in West Virginia.
Ryan Saxe, Agriculture Teacher – FFA Advisor, at Lincoln County High is the program leader, but has several other instructors and administrators extremely excited about the new educational opportunities being pursued by the school.
Looking a little like the makings of a mad scientist’s laboratory, with its large tanks and rubber tubes, the school’s equipment has the capacity of producing 400 gallons of biodiesel a week at a cost of about $1 per gallon. The fuel, used to power a school bus and other heavy-duty equipment in the agriculture activities of the high school, was projected to save the school district an estimated $32,000 its first year alone. But more importantly, it has given Lincoln County students a jumpstart in a technology that few high school students receive.
The school’s biofuels program has received funding from the state Department of Education and the state Department of Agriculture. Students also get the opportunity to grow the crops used to make biofuel, such as corn, switch grass, soybeans, canola and sunflowers, and perhaps the opportunity to explore growing and harvesting algae for biodiesel.
Information gathered from the visit will be used to guide new educational programs being considered at the NAFTC.