Birthplace of Wind for Schools, Colorado program honored with Wirth Chair Award

Colorado’s Wind for Schools—a program that marked the beginning of a national movement—recently was honored with a Wirth Chair Award for its work in integrating wind energy into classrooms throughout the state.

Wind for Schools, an innovative program in that it simultaneously addresses wind industry workforce development needs and public understanding of wind energy deployment, was launched by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America initiative, based at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Wind for Schools has gotten off the ground in 11 states (Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia).

Attending the event honoring the Colorado program were United Nations Foundation and Better World Fund President Timothy E. Wirth (for whom the Wirth Chair and award are named), Governor John Hickenlooper (D), a host of Colorado legislative leaders, a contingent from turbine manufacturer Vestas (which has its North American operations in the state), Colorado Senator Mark Udall’s wife Maggie, the governor’s energy chief and several of his staff, and other officials.

Fittingly, also attending the event was Larry Flowers, AWEA’s current director of distributed and community wind, who was the driving force behind the launch of Wind for Schools back in 2006 while he served at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. That state’s Wind for Schools program was the nation’s first. Under the initiative, K-12 schools install small wind turbines at their schools with the consultation of students at in-state universities that host Wind Application Centers. The university student has the opportunity to apply his or her knowledge to a real-world project, while the younger students use the experience, including the data flowing from the turbine once it is installed, in multiple classes such as science and math. In addition, the entire community becomes familiar with wind power by seeing and learning about the wind turbine.

Co-recipients of the award were NREL, Colorado State University (location of the Wind Application Center) and the governor’s energy office.
The Wirth Chair in Sustainable Development at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver is named for Wirth, a former U.S. Senator and Undersecretary of State, and honors environmental and sustainable development achievements across Colorado.

Since 2009, the Colorado Wind Application Center at Colorado State University and the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office have selected nine rural schools to participate in the Wind for Schools project: Arriba-Flagler Consolidated School District High School in Flagler, Burlington High School in Burlington, Kit Carson High School in Kit Carson, Stratton High School in Stratton, Walsh High School in Walsh, Wellington Middle School in Wellington, Ponderosa High School in Parker, Nederland Middle/Senior High School in Nederland, and Park County RE-2 School District in Fairplay.

Related articles:

With Illinois launch, Wind for Schools enters new era, April 16, 2012
In triumph for Maine high school students, wind turbine goes online, April 3, 2012
Free at last: High school students get final signoff to install 100-kW wind turbine, December 23, 2011

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