News from Emily:

May 21, 2013

I write this newsletter update from Washington D.C. where I have gathered with other Audubon fellows from around the country to report our TogetherGreen projects to the generous Toyota executives who funded us. It is inspiring to sit here and listen to the conservation work of the queen of the Gullah-Geechee nation, a climate-activist in New York City, a ship captain in Puget Sound, a lawyer representing communities near PCB-contaminated landfills in North Carolina, a fisherwoman from Rhode Island, and a wildlife biologist studying sea ice in the Bering Strait. Harmony’s new solar sculpture and native tree plantings are part of a national movement of creative, innovative, positive environmental impacts.

Congratulations to the many students, parents, alumni and friends, including Barb Bonchek, of Harmony that helped on these projects! Many thanks to parent Alex Jarvis of Solar Systems of Indiana and alumnus Wes Biddle of Atomic Electric worked very hard to install the photovoltaic system. Thanks also to parents Kevin Marzhal and Lee Deckard and those who gave good homes to our extra tree and shrub seedlings. Mostly, however, the praise belongs to the many, many students who helped: they dug the holes for the trees and the giant hole for the sculpture foundation, they planted over a hundred saplings and a garden of prairie flowers, they pounded stakes, they cut and painted steel, they destroyed some invasive honeysuckle, and they got excited about what they are doing to improve our environment.

Even with all these energy and habitat conservation efforts going on, we also finished up our academic classes with lots of good work. In Anatomy & Physiology, students finished studying the nervous system. Thanks to parent Heather Heerssen for dissecting a sheep brain with us! We watched some of the movie SuperSize Me to spark our study of the digestive system, gastric bypass surgery and nutrition. Finally, students applied all their knowledge from the semester in their dissection of rat specimens.

Ecology students conducted habitat surveys of our school grounds to document the baseline level of native and invasive species at Harmony. Thanks to the Target field trip grant, we visited the Exotic Feline Rescue Center to start our studies of animal behaviors. We followed that trip with a fascinating tour of the cowbird research aviaries at the IU Animal Behavior Farm. Lastly, students shared with each other different ecological issues they had researched.

The Energy scientists presented their own research on various renewable energy sources to each other, and also heard from parent Derrick Crecelius about electrical generators. They celebrated the end of the semester by running John and Lana’s car on the biodiesel they transformed from canola oil. These students have been so energized by their work on the solar panels this semester that they are continuing to work beyond the end of the class to submit another grant on our energy audit work earlier this year.

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