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New York teacher inspired by BBEP tour to propose town AD facility

Mrs. Tammy Morgan, a 2011 participant in the Bioenergy and Bioproducts (BBEP) program, has taken the concepts she learned during the teacher training program and has scaled them up to the community level!!

Mrs. Morgan, who teaches Biology and Environmental Science at at Lake Placid Middle-High School took part in two separate training BBEP programs during 2011.  As a participant in the one-week BBEP workshop held in New York City (Site Director, Ms. Zywia Wojnar, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Dutchess County), Mrs. Morgan had a chance to interact with teachers from around New York State while learning the basic concepts of Bioenergy and Bioproducts.  The 2011 program, held at the Manhattan campus of the Pace Law School, focused on the laws and policies governing Energy Policy in the U.S.  Participants heard seminars from a variety of speakers including Joanna Underwood, President and Chairwoman of Energy Vision.  In addition, teachers were taken to the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant as well as to the Tri-State Biodiesel conversion facility.

It was the visit to the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment facility and the information regarding Anaerobic Digestion of wastes, that really started Mrs. Morgan thinking about her own school and their ability to utilize waste for energy.

Anaerobic Digestion, a process whereby microbes, in an oxygen free environment, break biodegradable material down into constituent molecules and then convert the molecules into methane gas, is used to extract energy from waste.

After her participation in the weeklong training program, Mrs. Morgan completed  a BBEP internship through the Pace University Law School campus in White Plains, NY.  During this time, Mrs. Morgan was encouraged to think about a project involving Bioenergy that could be implemented at her school or in her community.  As she began thinking about her own school and community, Mrs. Morgan was bothered by the amount of energy being “wasted” in the form of biodegradable material.  Armed with the knowledge she had gained during the training program, Mrs. Morgan began researching ways to set-up small anaerobic digesters fueled by food scraps and waste from the Lake Placid Middle-High School cafeteria.  After speaking with researchers and studying the technology in more detail, Mrs. Morgan began to realize that the concept of utilizing waste for energy could potentially be used on a community-wide scale.  It was this realization that spurred Mrs. Morgan to begin developing a plan where the town of North Elba might install an Anaerobic Digester to handle food waste and other organic material.  These plans involve the creation of a small paired Anaerobic Digester and Compost facility whereby the community waste could be converted to produce solid and liquid fertilizer as well as methane gas for producing power.

Upon returning to upstate New York, Mrs. Morgan began working with The Wild Center, a non-profit facility dedicated to environmental education in the Adirondacks, on plans for the community-centered Anaerobic Digester.  The project is currently still in the planning stages and potential funding sources are being investigated.

Mrs. Morgan serves an example of how one person, armed with a scientific understanding and a drive to elicit change in her community, can propose ideas to implement Bioenergy concepts.

As an outstanding Alumna of the program, Mrs. Morgan made a trip to the Cornell campus during the summer of 2012 to present her project during a, “Sustainability in Teaching” day held for participants of the BBEP Teaching Fellowship program and open to the public.

Great work, Tammy!  

Related stories:

Lake Placid, New York, teacher proposes anaerobic digestion installation

Teacher researching possibility of anaerobic digester at North Elba Transfer Station

Teacher proposes town build anaerobic digester to recycle food scraps and grow greenhouse food