Power to change

Third-grade students from Krout 2-3 Elementary School participated in the renewable energy program at the Franciscan Earth Literacy Center Wednesday morning.

Sisters Shirley Shafranek, educator for FELC; Barbara Jean Miller; and Jean Frances Olmor taught students the importance of preserving the environment and the differences between renewable and non-renewable energy sources.

The program ran Wednesday and will be repeated Friday.

“This is sort of a pilot program,” Safranek said. “With the state science standards, we wanted to come up with a renewable energy course to teach the third-graders about the importance of protecting their environment.”

The students got to experiment with mini wind turbines and solar panels; took a tour of the straw-insulated house, Little Portion Green; and learned the steps for turning coal and wind power into electricity.

“It’s great that the students get the chance to explore hands-on and work together and learn outside of the classroom,” Krout teacher Tiffany Dicker said.

Nearly 200 students will experience the program in two days. The program was possible through a grant from the Sisters of St. Francis.

The program is to teach students to be careful with non-renewable resources, Shafranek said.”The concept of renewable energy is vague,” Krout teacher Cam Fox said. “These programs are wonderful. They bring the students together out of the classroom and are able to see how things actually work. Everything comes together.”

The FELC offers programs for adults, Boy and Girl Scouts, K-6 grade students, leadership and team building programs, weekend and holiday programs, summer camps and programs for special needs.

“The biggest thing we want people to take away from these programs is an appreciation of our environment and hope, that with that appreciation, comes respect,” Shafranek said. “The saddest thing that I have seen is that for many students it is their first time in an environment such as the woods. If we lose that connection with nature, it can hurt the environment.”

“We hope to do more with renewable energy especially with the adult programs,” Shafranek said. “Eventually, we would like to move to the higher grades.”

The FELC is located on the St. Francis campus at 194 St. Francis Ave.

For more information about the FELC summer camps or programs, visit or call Shafranek at (419) 448-7485.