Special to the Reporter

Last Thursday, Glen Rose High School’s environmental science classes traveled to three area waterways for Luminant-facilitated water sampling.

This once-a-month water sampling trip provides hands-on environmental education for participating juniors and seniors as part of a partnership between Luminant and the high school.

In 2002, Luminant’s Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant Environmental Community Advisory Panel reached out to GRHS to help develop a hands-on environmental education program within the school’s existing environmental class. Known as environmental science, the class is geared toward high school juniors and seniors. In addition to traditional classroom course work, students also participate in a once-a-month water sampling field trip.

During these in-field assignments, students measure water temperature and depth and take water samples to test the pH, turbidity and other characteristics of the water found in sections of the Paluxy River. The results are logged and submitted to the Texas Stream Team Program administered by Texas State University for tracking.

Now in its ninth year, participation in the program has exploded from roughly eight students in one class the first year to 55 split among three classes in 2010.

In all, it’s estimated the class has reached more than 200 students. For some, the environmental lessons learned during the course may have ultimately kick-started a career in the environmental sciences field. Current students already committed to another career path say it’s significantly increased their environmental awareness.

The course is taught by instructor Wendy Thompson, with in-field water testing assignments facilitated and monitored by David Rutledge with Luminant’s environmental services team.

In addition to providing oversight, Luminant also donated the water testing equipment at the beginning of the program. Luminant continues to yearly update equipment and restock supplies needed.

“They get the opportunity to come out and get real life experience so hopefully in the future, some of them might look at this as a potential career,” said Wendy Thompson.

“My hope is that they get a little better appreciation for the environment and man’s interaction with it,” added David Rutledge, Luminant environmental

services.