The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association last week awarded $2,500 grants to each of two Iowa school districts through its Biodiesel Backer Award Program at the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association annual conference. The recipients of the grants are Odebolt-Arthur and Battle Creek-Ida Grove (OA-BCIG) School Districts and West Sioux Community School District. To be eligible for one of the Biodiesel Backer Awards, Iowa K-12 schools were required to educate their students and communities about biodiesel and incorporate biodiesel into their school programming. The winners were then selected based on a competitive application process.
"With another school year right around the corner, it's a great time to recognize OA-BCIG and West Sioux as Biodiesel Backer Award Winners," says IRFA biofuels manager Grant Menke. "These two northwest Iowa schools have unique and impressive programs that highlight the benefits of using biodiesel in Iowa. We thank them for their support of Iowa biodiesel, and we hope their leadership will inspire more and more school bus fleets to make the transition to biodiesel. Clean, renewable Iowa biodiesel is the best fuel choice for school bus fleets, and more importantly, the healthiest choice for students. IRFA encourages all Iowa schools to learn the facts about biodiesel and to try it in their school buses."
Program encourages school districts to use biodiesel in busses
OA-BCIG has been using biodiesel blends since 2008 and used 10,205 gallons in 2009. The school district uses biodiesel because it reduces carbon and sulfur emissions and enhances the air that students breathe. In addition, it saves money in reduced transportation fuel costs, lowers bus maintenance expenses, and increases lubricity.
Each spring, OA-BCIG hosts a Service Day where the students volunteer in the communities and take part in clean-up projects at school and in the city parks. As the district finalizes its 2011 curriculum, it is their intent to set aside a day to educate students, teachers and administrative faculty members about biodiesel so they can better understand how the fuel is made, its many health benefits and the jobs that are available at the local Galva and Wall Lake biodiesel plants. OA-BCIG is looking into incorporating tours of the biodiesel refineries as part of their technology class. The 'up close and personal' tours would give high school students a hands-on understanding of the renewable fuels industry, job opportunities after college, and their day-to-day impact on the rural economy.
Currently, West Sioux School District is using B20 in its buses from May 1 to November 1 and is pleased with the product. But their greater accomplishment is the Agricultural Renewable Fuels class that has just completed its third semester. The class was started to provide students with a basic knowledge and understanding of the ethanol and biodiesel industry. In the class, the students produce ethanol and biodiesel fuel that is run in laboratory test engines.
West Sioux High School has "Agricultural Renewable Fuels" class
The whole curriculum of the class is about biodiesel and renewable fuels. The students learn about world and national production as well as local activity and discuss emerging opportunities, such as methane, algae and cellulosic ethanol research and development. The students are spreading the advantages and success stories of biodiesel by educating other students and the public about what they have learned.
Information about the Biodiesel Backer Award Program can be found online at www.iowarfa.org/educators.php in addition to a variety of information materials and communication tools to assist schools in teaching students and communities about biodiesel. Visit the IRFA website at www.IowaRFA.org for the latest updates on the Biodiesel Backer Award program as well as other important information, news and events from IRFA.
For more information on OA-BCIG's Service Day contact Superintendent Danielle Trimble at 712-364-3371. To learn more about West Sioux School District's biodiesel advocacy efforts, contact Tom Chapman at 712-551-1181. For questions related to IRFA's Biodiesel Backer Award Program, contact Grant Menke at 515-252-6249. IRFA thanks the Iowa Office of Energy Independence for making this round of Biodiesel Backer Awards possible through generous funding from its Iowa Power Fund Community Grant Program.
Iowa is nation's leading producer of biodiesel with 14 plants
Iowa is the nation's leading producer of biodiesel with 14 plants capable of producing over 320 million gallons of biodiesel annually from products grown in the state of Iowa. "Encouraging your school to fill its buses with biodiesel is a step toward a healthier community, a cleaner environment, and a more energy independent nation," says Menke.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association was formed in 2002 to represent the state's ethanol and biodiesel producers. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development.