FSU Foundation to Sub-Award $69,000 to Students for Project to Collect Data for Fracking
Students in Tom Kozikowski’s Environmental Science classes at Mountain Ridge High School are collecting baseline water quality data on the drinking water supply of Frostburg and surrounding areas. Now, with the support of State Farm® Youth Advisory Board (YAB), Frostburg State University and the FSU Foundation, the group will have more than $69,000 in grant money to use to conduct their research in an effort to supply reliable and unbiased information to the public so that rational decisions can be made regarding hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
Submitted by the FSU Foundation, Inc. on behalf of the Board of Education of Allegany County, the students’ project was chosen by the YAB from more than 1,000 requests because it “demonstrated a deep connection to classroom curriculum through clear articulation of innovative, school-based service-learning.”
Mountain Ridge’s students will continue to collect water samples one time per month for several years beyond the start of fracking in the area in order to have data before, during and after it begins. Looking for changes in bromide, barium, strontium, total dissolved solids, and several other key fracking-related water quality parameters will be the focus. All information collected by the students will be reported to the City of Frostburg and the Allegany County Commissioners on an annual basis or after a notable change in their findings occurs. Interested citizens can also see more frequent data reports by going to www.statefarmyab.com/projects/ and clicking on the circle over Western Maryland.
“The students were really inspired to be part of a project this unique and 100% real science and 100% important,” stated Tom Kozikowski. “The goal of the project is to involve students in providing reliable information to the public so that properly informed decisions can be made.”
The issue of hydraulic fracturing has been highly scrutinized because of the argument it has caused about its positive and negative impacts. Lack of accurate information has fueled tensions between both proponents and opponents. To date, hydraulic fracturing has not been permitted in the state of Maryland.
According to Karen Bundy, Interim Chief Academic Officer for Allegany County Public Schools, “It’s very exciting to have ACPS students participating in collecting real data for a local environmental issue that will be shared with those in decision-making positions, and the fact that a University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) scientist/researcher is going to work alongside the students provides credibility to their work.”
Advising and assisting the class is Johan Schijf of the UMCES Chesapeake Biological Lab; Dan Soeder of the U.S. Department of Energy; and John Kirby and Chris Hovatter of the City of Frostburg. More than 100 Mountain Ridge students are directly involved with this project.
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. David Cox, stated “We would like to thank the FSU Foundation, Inc. for being our partner in securing the much-needed funding for this project.”
YAB is comprised of 30 students ages 17-20 from across the U.S. and Canada. These students are full-time high school and college students that have committed their time to serve on this board, which is charged with selecting for funding unique and youth-led service-learning projects. Since its implementation in 2006, State Farm and YAB have funded more than $20.7 million affecting an estimated 13.9 million people. For more information on YAB, visit www.statefarmyab.com.