Hemlock Youth Action Team gets boost for invasive species project

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LOGAN — The Hemlock Youth Action Team will receive a $58,872 service-learning grant for an environmental responsibility service-learning project from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board.

Hemlock Youth Action Team is one of 64 community organizations to receive a service-learning, youth-led grant across the United States and Canada.

"Hemlock Youth Action Team's program will give students the chance to research and understand the biodiversity of the ecosystem in their area while engaging members of the community," said Suneil Kamath, youth advisory board member from Ohio. "Service-learning is an excellent way to engage students outside the traditional 'chalk and blackboard' model, and our board really liked this project's core goals."

The team is composed of 48 high school students, their 13 advisors from 13 Southeastern Ohio school districts and environmental educators from Camp Oty'Okwa and Rural Action. The high school team will be trained in techniques for group facilitation, develop leadership skills and learn about the impact of the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive aphid-like insect that is threatening the hemlock forests, said grant coordinator Cathy Knoop.

"Using these skills, they will develop educational events for their school districts and the community to create regional awareness of the economic as well as the ecological impact caused by devastation of the hemlock ecosystems. The educational component of the project is being supported by local and state agencies that are working to combat the problem of the hemlock woolly Adelgid," Knoop said.

"State Farm is proud to support service-learning because it brings real world experience into the classroom and provides our students with opportunities to work on current, practical problems," said Logan State Farm Agent Corby Leach. "The State Farm Youth Advisory Board is a prime example of State Farm's commitment to our community, our youth and their education.

The 13 Southeastern Ohio school districts involved in the project are Alexander High School, Circleville High School, Crooksville High School, Huntington High School, Jackson High School, Logan Elm High School, Logan High School, Morgan High School, Southern Local High School, Watkins Memorial High School, Tri-County Career Center and Trimble High School.

The State Farm Youth Advisory Board has granted more than $28 million in grant money since its inception in 2006, empowering youth to implement service-learning in 509 communities.