April 11, 2018

In an ongoing effort to promote the importance of studying Wyoming’s ecosystems and as well as the ecological impacts of development, Powder River Basin Resource Council (Resource Council) presented two sets of awards at the Wyoming State Science Fair in Laramie. Each recipient earned a free membership to the Resource Council and a monetary award.

“We were fascinated by these projects, and by the fact that Wyoming youth are interested in studying how to conserve our ecosystem,” said Stacy Page, a Resource Council member who judged this year’s awards.

Eduardo Burgos from Greybull High School was the recipient for the “Award for Impacts on Development,” and a $350 monetary award. Eduardo’s project was titled “Potential Bioremediation of Waste Hydrocarbons: Utilization of Mycorrhizal Fungi as an Environment Agent.” He tested several commercially available mycorrhizal formulations for their effectiveness of breaking down hydrocarbons in crude oil contaminated soil. He found that the brand Gnarly Roots had the greatest breakdown of hydrocarbons in the contaminated soil.

The “Bill Barlow Memorial Youth in Conservation Awards” are presented in the memory of Bill Barlow, a rancher and conservationist who was also a founding member of the Resource Council. These awards honor students whose science fair projects study Wyoming ecosystems, consider impacts of development on the natural environment or agriculture, or explore innovative energy alternatives.

This year the awards went to Rueben McGuire, Pioneer Park Elementary in Cheyenne and Kort Bannan from Lusk Elementary Middle School with a monetary award of $200 each.

Kort’s project was titled “Saving the Ocean 1 Fiber at a Time.” Sheep wool woven into mats is used to absorb oil from water. The oil can be salvaged from the mats so they can be reused up to 10 times. His family raises meat breed sheep, and currently the sheared wool is discarded because there is no economical use for it. His project demonstrated that the coarse wool was effective for absorbing oil, and that this may be a use for his family’s wool.

Rueben’s project was titled “Water + Spin = Power.” He wanted to know what configuration of hydroelectric generators; series, parallel, or parallel-series hybrid, is most efficient in generating electricity while maintaining enough pressure so that the water could still make it to the top floor of his house. He found that the parallel-series hybrid that he designed provided electricity and left enough water pressure to maintain the household.

For more information on the Youth in Conservation Awards, please contact the Resource Council at 307-672-5809 or email info@powderriverbasin.org.