CONTACT: SCOTT HAUSER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
Outstanding rural students study environmental health at UI July
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A group of 15 outstanding Iowa ninth-graders will
spend a week studying college-level environmental health sciences at the
University of Iowa beginning July 20 in a pilot program designed to boost
opportunities for gifted and talented high school students in rural areas.
The first Environmental Health Sciences Institute for Rural Youth runs
through July 26. 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.
The Institute, which organizers hope to make an annual program, 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 new Institute is one of few in the United States designed specifically
for talented and gifted students in rural school districts.
Nicholas Colangelo, director of the Belin-Blank Center and co-director
of the new Institute, says providing more opportunities to students in
rural areas is the goal of the new program and of the Belin-Blank Center.
"Typically, small, rural districts have fewer resources to provide
additional programming for highly capable students," Colangelo says.
"We hope that the new Environmental Health Sciences Institute, and
programs like it, will be a way to provide those students and schools with
additional opportunities and, at the same time, will excite students' interest
in studying issues that have enormous impact on the state."
James Merchant, director of EHSRC and a co-director of the new 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 the agricultural
and environmental issues that the Environmental Health Sciences Research
Center focuses on," Merchant says. "Students, their families,
their communities, and the university will need to work together if we
are going to deal effectively with those issues."
For the pilot program, 600 gifted and talented students identified by
the Belin-Blank Center who live in or near Iowa communities with fewer
than 5,000 people were asked about their interest in 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 and local educators.
Students who complete the program are required to make two presentations
about their studies at the Institute when they return to their hometown
schools in the fall. One presentation must be made to a community group
and one must be made to a school group.