11/22/2000

AEP SEEKS STUDENTS AND TEACHERS FOR TOUR OF BOLIVIAN RAIN FOREST

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 21, 2000 - Tropical rain forests in Bolivia will be the “classroom” in June 2001 for 10 students and teachers from high schools near five American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) power plants in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.

AEP’s E-LAB – Environmental Learning and Adventure in Bolivia – is a 10-day guided learning exploration of the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. The park is a 4.2-million-acre rain forest that was untouched for thousands of years, threatened by logging and clearing for agriculture and now saved.

“E-LAB provides a rare opportunity for high school students and faculty to experience a true adventure and to learn about wild nature and environmental issues in an awe-inspiring setting,” said Jay Pruett, AEP manager of environmental stewardship, Dallas. “I participated in a ‘pilot’ tour in June with two students and two teachers from the Columbus area. The setting is breathtaking and unlike anything most of us would ever see in the U.S. We’re using our experiences this year to plan the 2001 tour.”

Information about E-LAB and the park in Bolivia can be found at http://elab.aep.com.

Eligible students and faculty are at high schools (listed in parentheses) near these AEP power plants:

  • Glen Lyn plant in Giles County, Va. (Giles High near Pearisburg, Va., and Narrows High in Narrows, Va.)
  • Clinch River plant near Cleveland, Va., in Russell County (high schools in St. Paul, Lebanon, Castlewood and Honaker, Va.)
  • Kanawha River plant at Glasgow, W.Va., in Kanawha County (Riverside High in Belle, W.Va.)
  • John Amos plant near Nitro, W.Va., in Putnam County (Winfield High)
  • Big Sandy plant near Louisa, Ky. (Lawrence County High near Louisa)


Power plants and high schools that will participate in the 2002 tour have not been determined. A decision is expected to be announced in the fall of 2001.

Each student applicant must be a high school sophomore or junior in the school year prior to the tour, have at least a 3.0 grade point average, have a demonstrated commitment to the environment and compose a 500-word essay on environmental sustainability.

Teacher applicants must be certified high school teachers, have a demonstrated rapport with students, have contributed personally or professionally to environmental protection and write a 500-word essay on teaching sustainability in the classroom.

The deadline for applications is Jan. 15, 2001. Participants, to be selected by the schools, will be announced in February 2001. “We will help participants start planning in March and will host a workshop in April,” Pruett said. “During and after the trip, participants will develop a learning plan focusing on the issues of climate change, development that can be sustained into the future, tropical forest ecology and diversity of animals and plants in the park.”

The 10-day itinerary includes two days of air travel to and from Bolivia, three days in Santa Cruz and five days touring the park. All costs and expenses are paid by AEP except passports and transportation to and from the U.S. airport.

“The guided tour will consist of vigorous hikes and river boat excursions. We’ll see exotic flora and fauna, possibly monkeys, jaguars and pink fresh water dolphins,” Pruett said. The park is home to 620 bird species, 130 species of mammal and 70 species of reptile.

The experience does not end when participants return to the U.S. In July 2001 participants will meet to share pictures and memories and to make brief presentations to their colleagues and AEP executives about their experiences. Participants are also expected to make presentations, which will be posted to elab.aep.com, to at least three school or community groups during the 2001-02 school year. Teachers’ learning plans will also be posted to the web site.

AEP’s involvement in the Bolivian rain forest began in 1997 when it formed a partnership, the Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action Project, with the government of Bolivia, two environmental organizations and two other companies to address the climate change issue. The partners acted to preserve the tropical park in northeastern Bolivia as the largest forest-based carbon sequestration project in the world. Vegetation in the forest captures and stores carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, released by combustion of fossil fuels. Preserving vegetation also prevents the release of carbon dioxide from logging.

American Electric Power is a multinational energy company based in Columbus, Ohio. AEP owns and operates more than 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity, making it one of America’s largest generators of electricity. The company is also a leading wholesale energy marketer and trader, ranking second in the U.S. in electricity volume. AEP provides retail electricity to more than 9 million customers worldwide and has more than $35 billion in assets, primarily in the U.S. with holdings in select international markets. Wholly owned subsidiaries are involved in power engineering and construction services, energy management and telecommunications.

Tom Ayres
Sr. Commun. Consultant
American Electric Power
614/223-1973

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