Thousands of students in eight states, Canada turn out to test waters

General Motors Corp. and Earth Force GREEN begin spring student water-monitoring season, with GM executives traveling from headquarters to visit Lordstown, Ohio, water testing event...

LORDSTOWN, OH, May 3, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- Thousands of students across eight states and Canada are turning out to test the quality of their local watersheds this month as part of the Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN) program, announced Earth Force President Vince Meldrum.

The events, sponsored by the General Motors Corp., are an example of outstanding public/private partnerships to engage America's youth in hands-on learning experiences, and provide opportunities for young people to understand, improve and sustain the watershed in their community. Across the country students will be testing the water in Michigan, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, New York and Virginia.

Senior executives from General Motors were on hand in Lordstown, Ohio, to kick-off the month's activities by helping the Volney Rogers Junior High School students test the water quality as part of the Mahoning River Education Project, a program of Youngstown State University's Center for Urban and Regional Studies. Beth Lowry, GM vice president of environment and energy, said "In each community we reach more young people every year, and are looking forward to expanding this partnership to include even more facilities, employees and young people in the future. The GREEN program has developed into an opportunity to strengthen the ties within the GM community and be a national leader in good citizenship."

During the water testing students on their fieldtrip assess the physical condition of the area and test for nutrients and macro-invertebrates such as dragonfly and mayfly nymphs. The students also perform tests on dissolved oxygen, E. coli, pH, temperature, orthophosphate, nitrate and nitrite, and transparency.

In discussing the GM-GREEN program, Meldrum said, "Every year the partnership between General Motors and Earth Force grows and engages more young people in civic action projects in their communities. Through this partnership students apply their lessons to real-word problems in their environment and get a chance to make an impact in the community. They learn by doing -- the most powerful way to learn."

In 2004, 174 classes and 9,113 young people participated in the GM-GREEN program. As part of the program, students and teachers conduct a watershed assessment that includes collecting physical, chemical and biological water samples. Using this data and other resources, they identify a problem they would like to address, then research it in a balanced fashion, review applicable legal or community considerations and decide on the best solution. Students then design and implement their action plan to address the problem. The final step is to reflect upon what they learned in the process. Each aspect of the process is based on key academic standards. The program is collaborative in design and incorporates exciting "hands-on" components of both science and civics, teaching youth the importance of being concerned, active and responsive citizens.

General Motors currently has 56 facilities throughout the United States and Canada that actively support local youth water quality monitoring efforts. In each of these communities, they have worked with Earth Force to engage a local environmental partner to organize, support and champion the GM-GREEN program locally. These partners include universities, state agencies, school districts, and non-profit organizations interested in engaging young people in watershed education.

Concluded Meldrum, "Thanks to the GM-GREEN program thousands of school children across the country are learning first-hand about the world they live in and the role each of us plays in protecting the environment for us all."

Earth Force is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to creating a generation of young people who are environmental citizens. Based in Alexandria, Virginia, the national organization gives young people the skills and knowledge to create lasting solutions to environmental problems in their communities. Annually, Earth Force provides 35,000 youth with the skills and knowledge to create lasting change in their communities while developing lifelong habits of active citizenship and social responsibility. For more information on Earth Force, go to www.earthforce.org or www.green.org.

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