COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 27, 2002 - American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) will lead a group of 12 students and teachers from Ohio and West Virginia to a South American rain forest this summer for AEP’s Environmental Learning and Adventure in Bolivia (E-LAB) program.

Managers of five AEP power plants in the two states have announced E-LAB 2002 participants from their neighboring high schools. AEP provides all funding for E-LAB.

“During and after the 11-day trip, the students and teachers will use their observations to develop a learning plan for their school curriculum on subjects such as tropical forest ecology, climate change, development that can be sustained in the future, and the diversity of plants and animals that flourish in tropical habitats,” said Jay Pruett, AEP’s manager of environmental stewardship, who will lead the group on its expedition to the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park in Bolivia.

Students selected for the Bolivian expedition are:

  • Vaughn Layne, daughter of Tom and Dawn Layne of Ripley, W.Va. Layne, a sophomore at Ripley High School, is representing AEP’s Mountaineer Plant at New Haven, W.Va.

  • Angela Niehaus, daughter of Richard and Felicia Niehaus of Cameron, W.Va. Niehaus, a junior at John Marshall High School, is representing AEP’s Kammer-Mitchell Plant at Moundsville, W.Va.

  • Jesse Steffl, son of Terry and Mary Ann Steffl of Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. Steffl, a junior at Buckeye Local High School, is representing AEP’s Cardinal Plant at Brilliant, Ohio.

  • Stephanie Story, daughter of Peggy Story of Middleport, Ohio. Story, a junior at Meigs High School, is representing AEP’s Sporn Plant at New Haven, W.Va.

  • Erica Taylor, daughter of J. D. and Carolyn Taylor of Cheshire, Ohio. Taylor, a sophomore at River Valley High School, is representing Gavin Plant.

Teachers selected for the 2002 E-LAB program are:

  • Thomas Coldwell of Vinton, Ohio. Coldwell, a biology teacher at River Valley High School, is representing Gavin Plant.

  • Bonnie Harr of Rayland, Ohio. Harr, a Spanish teacher at Buckeye Local High School, is representing Cardinal Plant.

  • Barbara Heckert of Ripley, W.Va. Heckert, a biology, advanced biology and environmental sciences teacher at Ripley High School, is representing Mountaineer Plant.

  • Richard Niehaus of Cameron, W.Va. Niehaus, an environmental and integrated sciences teacher at Sherrard Junior High School, is representing Kammer-Mitchell Plant.

  • Tim Simpson of Guysville, Ohio. Simpson, an agri-business and horticulture teacher at Meigs High School, is representing Sporn Plant.

Also selected to participate in the 2002 expedition are Sandra Forgey of Rio Grande, Ohio, a chemistry and integrated sciences teacher at Gallia Academy High School, and Bruce Garrett of Amanda, Ohio, a science and computer lab teacher at Amanda-Clearcreek Junior High School. Forgey will serve as lead resource teacher and Garrett will serve as resource teacher. Their roles will be to assist Pruett in coordinating the trip and working with students and teachers to assist the development of curriculum materials afterward. It will be the second trip to Bolivia in two years for Forgey, who served as a resource teacher for the 2001 E-LAB expedition.

“Students and teachers were selected by their schools on the basis of academic or teaching excellence and a keen interest in and commitment to the environment,” Pruett said. “The people who work at our Gavin, Sporn, Mountaineer, Cardinal and Kammer-Mitchell plants are pleased that their community partnerships can provide learning opportunities such as E-LAB for their local schools,” he noted, adding that the plants themselves were not involved in the selection process.

The trip’s itinerary calls for the group to leave the United States late on the evening of June 17 and to return home on June 27. The group will spend June 18 touring the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, before embarking to the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park the following day.

“The group will explore the rain forest by small plane, boat and truck as well as on foot, led by local naturalist guides,” Pruett said. “They will see forests, savanna, waterfalls, rivers and mountains and the creatures that live there. They will also visit a local community.”

A combination get-acquainted and planning meeting is scheduled for 2002 E-LAB participants on April 27 in Marietta.

The 2002 E-LAB expedition marks the second year that the company has sponsored the program. Students and teachers chosen for the inaugural 2001 trip represented five AEP power plants in central West Virginia, southern West Virginia and Virginia.

AEP’s involvement in the Bolivian rain forest began in 1997 when it formed a partnership - the Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action Project - with the government of Bolivia, two environmental organizations and two other companies to address the climate change issue through forest protection.

“AEP and its partners are committed to preserving this tropical wilderness in northeastern Bolivia as the largest forest-based carbon sequestering project in the world,” said Dale Heydlauff, AEP’s senior vice president - environmental affairs. “Vegetation in the rain forest captures and stores carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas which is released by the combustion of fossil fuels. Preserving vegetation also prevents the release of carbon dioxide caused by forest destruction.”

American Electric Power is a multinational energy company with a balanced portfolio of energy assets. AEP, the United States’ largest electricity generator, owns and operates more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. and select international markets. AEP is a leading wholesale energy marketer, ranking among North America’s top providers of wholesale power and natural gas with a growing wholesale presence in European markets. In addition to electricity generation, AEP owns and operates natural gas pipeline systems, natural gas storage, coal mines, and the fourth-largest inland barge company in the U.S. AEP is also one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with almost 5 million customers linked to AEP’s wires. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio.

Steve Hiles
Corporate Communications