AEP hosts last outdoor education event

| May 16, 2019

Coshocton Elementary School students got up close and personal with fish pulled out of waterways that run by the AEP Conesville Plant. Josie Sellers | Beacon

CONESVILLE – Charlie Dannemiller has volunteered at the AEP Conesville Outdoor Educational Event since it started 20 years ago.

“I like being around the kids and seeing them learn,” he said.

Dannemiller, an almost 40 year employee of the plant, was just one of many volunteers who spent May 15 helping fifth and sixth graders learn about the environment.

Several of the 23 stations were set up at the plant and others were at the Boy Scout Camp and Wills Creek Dam.

Caitlin Byrne and Sara Klips from the OSU Museum of Biological Diversity were teaching the students about fresh water mussels.

“This is my favorite activity every year,” Byrne said. “I love showing them what they think is a rock and then explaining to them what it actually is. It’s pretty fun.”

These Union Elementary School fifth graders were enjoying time out of the classroom at the AEP Conesville Outdoor Educational Event. Pictured from left are: Aubrey Quincel, Elaina Brenly, Remington Comston, and Catherine Sibert. Josie Sellers | Beacon

A few spots down from their station was the picnic shelter where lunch was being served. This also happens to be where Gary Forbes has volunteered a lot of his time over the years. He worked at the plant for 35 years. He’s been retired for seven years, but still comes back to help.

“I have a special interest because my son is the plant manager, but I enjoy this,” Forbes said. “It’s about building relationships. It’s a way for us to reach out to the community and kids. The environment and safety are important issues to AEP.”

Unfortunately the plant is set to shutdown in May 2020 and this is the last planned outdoor educational event.

“Being involved is the big thing with this and I’m going to miss being a part of the community in that way,” Forbes said. “There has been some discussion of someone else picking this event up. It’s been nice doing this for the kids and I hate to see it all go away. AEP will keep making power for our community though safely and environmentally for as long as we are asked to do so.”

The approximately 950 students who attend the event came from Coshocton, Ridgewood, River View, and Tri-Valley schools. Forbes said there also were some homeschoolers and private school students who took part.

Getting the chance to view an eagle’s nest was a big hit with several sixth graders from Ridgewood Middle School.

“The eagle was the best,” said Bailey Sturtz.

Her classmate Izik Stokes said he didn’t realize how yellow their eyes were.

Elaina Brenly and Aubrey Quincel, who are both fifth graders at Union Elementary, agreed that it was nice to spend the day at AEP and not have to take tests on what they were learning. Their favorite station at the event was the one where they learned about water clarification. It also was enjoyed by their classmates Taylor Meade, Hannah Brown, Deakon Ames, and Shyla Ferguson.

“How they cleaned the water was really cool,” Meade said.

Brown said the water was really muddy at first, but that quickly changed.

“They put this chemical in and all the mud got rinsed out,” she said. “It was crystal clear.”

The students were enjoying a lunch of grilled hot dogs, chips and brownies with their teacher Jessica McClain.

“This is my fourth year coming,” she said. “I like all the different educational stations. The kids get a wealth of knowledge and its fun. This is some really neat stuff. I love that AEP does this for the community and the kids. This is my favorite field trip we take all year.”





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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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