Local students share ‘green projects’ at the Indiana State House


Switzerland County High School students Elizabeth Abbott, Rachel Gurley, and Emily Lanman recently attended the Indiana “Rotunda Day” with their AP Environmental Science teacher, Bonnie Fancher.

The day was held at the Indiana State Capitol building on Wednesday, March 18th; and was sponsored by the “Indiana Buddy Project” and the Indiana Department of Education.

As a part of Rotunda Day, students developed and shared a PowerPoint presentation of Switzerland County High School “green projects” that promote environmental stewardship.

Projects highlighted were student involvement in the Indian Creek Watershed Project – a USEPA and IDEM Section 319 project.

“Students have been a driving force in this project since its inception,” Bonnie Fancher said. “Students identified E.coli problems in Indian Creek in 2001, helped identify the project mission, and provided much effort in watershed cleanups.”

AP Environmental seniors are ORSANCO Ohio River WaterWatchers and conduct monthly samplings for testing; and students have participated annually in the “ORSANCO Floating Classroom” on the Ohio River for daylong comparative studies of water quality.

Projects by the Switzerland County High School FFA Chapter have been spotlighted by its selection in 2008 as the Nation’s Number One Chapter in “Models of Innovation: Chapter Development.”

FFA “green projects” include indoor tilapia raising and a Washington D.C. effort to improve an island being converted to a park.

Teacher Sharon Hansel’s students, along with members of the Switzerland County High School Student Council led by sponsor Pam Jones; manage school paper recycling and school bottle recycling efforts.

All of these efforts were portrayed in the PowerPoint presentation.

A total of 10 Indiana counties and 12 Indiana schools were represented at the Rotunda Day. Indiana Senators and Representatives visited the school displays throughout the day; Representative Bob Bischoff stopped by to visit the Switzerland County students and their teacher. Representative Bischoff took time to talk with teacher and students and share reflections on his career as a public servant.

State Senator James Lewis also visited the Switzerland County display and gave the students a tour of his office; Senator Greg Walker of Columbus, Indiana, visited and talked at length about his concerns regarding the dependence of agriculture and food production on oil.

“It was a very informative discussion,” Bonnie Fancher said.

Representatives from the Governor’s office and Indiana Department of Education staff spent time at the Switzerland County display.

“It was an excellent time for Switzerland County High School students to learn about our state house, and for state representatives to learn information about Switzerland County High School technology and green projects,” Bonnie Fancher said.

The students attending all serve as officers of the FFA chapter, which is sponsored by teachers Greg Curlin and Melissa Andrew. Beth Abbott serves and the District 12 President; Rachel Gurley is the chapter president; and Emily Lanman is the chapter treasurer.