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Release: Immediate

Outstanding rural students study environmental health at UI July 19-24

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A group of 16 outstanding Iowa ninth-graders will spend a week studying college-level environmental health sciences at the University of Iowa beginning July 19 in a program designed to boost opportunities for gifted and talented high school students in rural areas.

The Environmental Health Sciences Institute for Rural Youth runs through July 24. Students who complete the program, including a requirement that they make two presentations in their home communities about their studies, will receive a $300 stipend. They also receive a summer scholarship which covers all costs for the one-week institute.

The Institute is a joint venture between the UI Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (EHSRC) and the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the UI College of Education.

The program is designed to expose students to issues, research and problem-solving approaches dealing with the environment, agricultural occupations and human health in rural areas of the state.

Students will study with UI faculty in areas such as environmentally associated cancer, environmental assessment and control, occupational health and pulmonary biology.

Funded through EHSRC -- one of 18 environmental health sciences centers supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences -- the Institute is one of few in the United States designed specifically for talented and gifted students in rural school districts.

James Merchant, director of EHSRC and a co-director of the Institute, says faculty are looking forward to working with the high school students.

"The fact that these high school students are from rural communities is particularly important because they have a special stake in agricultural and rural environmental issues, the focus of the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center," Merchant says.

Nicholas Colangelo, director of the Belin-Blank Center and co-director of the Institute, says providing more opportunities to students in rural areas is the goal of the program and of the Belin-Blank Center.

"Typically, small, rural districts have fewer resources to provide additional programming for highly capable students," Colangelo says. "The Environmental Health Sciences Institute is a way to provide those students and schools with additional opportunities and, at the same time, to excite students' interest in studying issues that have enormous impact on the state."

For the program, students who live in or near Iowa communities with fewer than 2,500 people were provided information and applications to the Environmental Health Sciences Institute. Students who were interested nominated themselves and submitted required application materials.

Participants were chosen by a committee made up of researchers at the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center.

Students who complete the program develop two presentations about some aspect of environmental health when they return to their hometown schools in the fall. One presentation is made to a community group and one to a school group.


EDITORS: Receipt of this release indicates that a student in your readership area has been selected to participate in the first Environmental Health Sciences Institute for Rural Youth at the University of Iowa July 19 through July 24. All students are ninth-graders. They are listed alphabetically by their hometowns.

BELLEVUE: Brittni Sturm, Marquette High School;

CARROLL: Rachel Stork, Carroll Community School;

DECORAH: Katie Lange, North Winneshiek Public School;

EDDYVILLE: Andrew Swope, Eddyville Blakesburg Schools;

EMMETSBURG: Julie Parisi, Emmetsburg High School;

HAMBURG: Amanda Hall, Hamburg High School;

JESUP: David Gaffney, Jesup High School;

KELLOGG: Melissa Osborn, Newton High School;

KEOSAUQUA: Bret Alvis, Van Buren Community School;

MADRID: Jackelyn Burke, Madrid High School;

MANNING: Jacqueline Dammann, Manning Community Schools;

MENLO: Noah Riordan, Guthrie Center High School;

NEOLA: Joseph Pettit, Tri-Center Community Schools;

POLK CITY: Brad Carroll, North Polk Junior/Senior High School;

ROWLEY: Hilary Lehman, Independence High School;

STATE CENTER: Jennifer Buck, West Marshall High School;