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November 17, 2008

Ohio High Schooler Organizes "No Coal" Conference

When a Sierra Club high school volunteer came to Nachy Kanfer of the Ohio Chapter wanting to organize a conference for environmental leaders her age, Kanfer was more than willing to lend his support.

"It sounded like a great idea to me," said Kanfer, who works on the Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign.

Kanfer provided Columbus high schooler Megan Leite with all the logistical support she needed to organize it, and on September about 25 high school students gather to learn more about coal and clean energy.

Coal1

Leite credits her fellow students with helping her put together the conference as well. "This took a lot of organization and a lot of ideas," said the senior. "I had a great group of organizers working with me. They were a big help and I couldn't have done anything without them."

The one-day conference featured numerous speakers and an interactive session where students planned the power for their own town.

"Mr. Ken Riley spoke about global warming and how we are affect our environment on a global scale," explained Leite. "Then Nachy spoke about coal use in Ohio. We narrowed it down even more and Mattie Reitman spoke about what high school students can do right here in Columbus."

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Leite and Kanfer said they both really enjoyed the second half of the day.

"After lunch, we had an interactive activity called Watt Town," said Leite. "In this activity, the students were broken up into groups and learned about two sources of energy. Then, each group made a presentation about the energy sources they studied. During each presentation the whole group asked questions about how and why that energy source is good for Watt Town. We then voted for which energy source would best and found out that there was no consensus for one energy source. We learned that each town will have to have multiple renewable energy sources to run their town."

Coal3

The two said students were inspired and educated by the day's activities, and that some want to plan another conference for next year. Leite said she is now focused on her school's environmental club and on getting into a good college next fall.

"My impressions were overall good," she said of the conference. "The people that attended learned a lot and gave the organizer positive feedback."

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