Local Teachers and Student from Tatum and Hallsville Visit Belize as part of Study Program Sponsored by AEP

SHREVEPORT, La., August 6, 2004 – Dina Brady, Taylor Amanda Whyte and Lee Branson were among the six students and eight teachers who participated in the “Environmental Learning and Adventure in Belize Program” (E-LAB) sponsored by American Electric Power, parent company of Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO).   
The group along with two AEP representatives recently spent nine days in Belize at three field research stations.  While there, they learned the concepts of storing, or sequestering, carbon to control the worldwide impacts of carbon dioxide emissions.  The participants learned about the delicate balance of ecosystems in three completely different environmental settings, and about ancient Mayan culture and current Belizean culture.  They also snorkeled the Western Hemisphere’s longest coral reef while spending two days on a tiny island 14 miles off the Caribbean coast of Belize. 
The students and teachers are sponsored by an AEP power plant in their respective area and selected for the program by their individual schools.  The 2004 E-LAB experiences marks the fourth year for the program. 
During the trip, students and teachers learn about the inter-relationships between energy, the economy and the environment.  They study environmental issues such as climate change, tropical rain forest ecology and biodiversity, as swell as local culture.  They observe how local residents are now learning to earn a living without cutting down the rain forest.  The group also has an opportunity to visit a local community, joining in local customs and sharing a meal. 
AEP has been working with other, like-minded organizations to preserve tropical rain forests in a number of locations.  The goal of these projects is to demonstrate the benefits of preserving tress that absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.  By “soaking up” this green house gas, the potential for global climate change is reduced. 
Experienced, guides, AEP environmental specialists and K-12 resource teachers accompany the students and teachers selected for the E-LAB program.  AEP pays all of the expenses for the trip.  Teachers who participate in the program are encouraged to incorporate “lessons learned” from the program into their curriculum.  Students who participate in the program typically have just completed their junior year in high school; they are encouraged to make presentations about the trip to their school and local community groups.  
Brady, a science teacher at Tatum Elementary School, was recruited as a resource counselor for AEP who will help coordinate lesson plans for the classroom. Whyte, a 12th grader this fall at Hallsville High School and Branson, a science teacher at the school, were chosen based an essay and application both submitted to that school’s superintendent.  AEP chose Hallsville High School because of its close proximity to SWEPCO’s  Pirkey Power Plant.  Also, all participants previously had demonstrated their commitment to the environment. 
Whyte and Branson were suggested as candidates to participate by Arne Melson, Pirkey Power Plant general manager.   “I knew that both would learn a lot by being a part of this program,” Melson said.  “Given the proximity to our power plant, I knew that they would find many of the environmental topics covered in this program very informative and interesting.”
Now that they have returned from the trip, the teachers will develop lesson plans focused on climate change, sustainable energy development, tropical forest ecology and biodiversity topics.  The lesson plans will be posted on AEP’s E-LAB website.  Each participant also will make at least three presentations to community or school groups. 
The teachers and students were encouraged to enter observations about the trip in a journal.  Whyte wrote the following entry:
“There are so many animals here! We went frogging, looking for the red-eyed tree frog, which we found and was very cute. Then, after everyone else had gone back to camp, Ashley, Lee, and I went walking down the main road. There wasn’t much activity, but the best part was when we turned off our lights, and it was pitch black. The only visible thing was the white road. We stood there in silence for what seemed like hours, but it was so peaceful. Everything seemed to be talking to us, but we couldn’t see it. It was really nice.”
Branson, the teacher who named himself “Bird Nerd,” wrote the following near the conclusion of the trip: 
“This journal entry is difficult. I am in the Belize City airport waiting to depart. I am ready to see my family; however, I must admit I am a little depressed. The friendships I have made on the trip will always be cherished. It’s not as much the place I will miss, as it is my friends. I am an amateur ecologist and the environment was something from a dream. The overall experience was so overwhelming that I cannot do it justice with words. I truly love my new friends, and I will never forget this experience. I hope this trip meant half as much to the others as it did to me.”
SWEPCO is an operating unit of American Electric Power, which owns more than 36,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States and is the nation´s largest electricity generator.  AEP is also one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with more than 5 million customers linked to AEP’s 11-state electricity transmission and distribution grid.  The company is based in Columbus, Ohio. SWEPCO serves over 165,500 customers in East Texas.

Scott McCloud
Communications Consultant

More From APCO

Take Charge

Save Money & Energy - Now & Later

Sign Up Now Pay Online for Free with Paperless Billing

Pay Online for Free with Paperless Billing

Learn more

Download our app

How We Restore Power Learn more

How We Restore Power

Visit AEP.com
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of the AEP Terms and Conditions. View our Privacy Policy. © 1996-2019 American Electric Power. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy for Appalachian Power, a unit of American Electric Power (AEP)


This Privacy Policy applies only to AppalachianPower.com and the Appalachian Power customer mobile app (com.aep.customerapp.apco). Other AEP websites and apps may be governed by their own privacy policies, appropriate to the uses and needs of each. Throughout the site or app, we may provide links to resources and sites that are not part of AppalachianPower.com or the Appalachian Power customer mobile app. This Privacy Policy does not apply to those resources and sites.


By using this site or app, you consent to the terms of this Privacy Policy. Whenever you submit information via this site or app, you agree to the collection, use, and disclosure of that information in accordance with this Privacy Policy.

Information Collected

  1. Passively collected information

    During your use of this site or app, we may collect anonymous information about your visit here through the use of server logs, cookies, scripts, tracking pixels and other Web traffic tracking systems. This information is aggregated and used to improve user experience through analysis of user activities. This information is never combined with any of the personally identifiable information you may provide in your use of the features of this site or app.
  2. Personally identifiable information

    On certain forms of this site or app, you may be asked to provide information about yourself or your account with us, either to identify yourself to us or to request a service from us. In each case, we will inform you what information is provided at your option and what information is required to complete the transaction or activity you are engaged in. If you are unwilling to provide this required information, you will be unable to complete the requested transaction.

Use and disclosure of information

The information you provide to us will be used to respond to requests you may make for services. Some or all of this information may be added to your permanent account record and may be used for research purposes.

In addition, we may use elements of this information in the following situations:

  1. We may transfer the information to Appalachian Power’s affiliates and subsidiaries, unless such transfer is prohibited by law;
  2. We may transfer the information as part of a merger, consolidation, acquisition, divestiture or other corporate restructuring (including bankruptcy);
  3. We may make the information available to third parties who are providing the product, service or information that you have requested (but not your password);
  4. We may make such information available to third parties who are providing services to Appalachian Power (for example, providing the information to third parties performing computer-related services for Appalachian Power);
  5. We may use the information to communicate with you about products and services that may be of interest to you.
  6. We may disclose the information if we form a good-faith belief that disclosure of such information is necessary to investigate, prevent, or take action regarding any illegal activities or regarding interference with the operation of our site or violation of its terms of use; or
  7. We may disclose the information if we believe that disclosure is required by law or regulation or in response to a subpoena or other order of a court or other governmental agency.

Appalachian Power uses Flurry Analytics Service (provided by Yahoo) in order to improve its mobile apps. Flurry’s privacy policy governs the use of this information.

Also, Appalachian Power reserves the right to share any aggregated information (i.e., non-personally identifiable information) with any third parties for any reason, unless prohibited by law.

We will not sell, rent or otherwise disclose the information we gather about you or your account to any third party, except as outlined in this Privacy Policy.


Appalachian Power takes reasonable steps to protect your personally identifiable information as it is transferred to us, through the use of Web technologies such as the Secure Sockets Layer and others. However, no Internet transmission of information is ever completely secure or error-free. In particular, e-mail sent to or from Appalachian Power may not be secure.

How to Reach Us

If you would like to update your personally identifiable information or if you have questions about this privacy policy, please contact us.

Changes to This Policy

Appalachian Power reserves the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. If this Privacy Policy changes, the revised policy will be posted to this site. Please review this Privacy Policy before you provide any personally identifiable information through this site. Use of our web site after the posting of a revised privacy policy constitutes your consent to the revised policy.

This policy was last revised on December 13, 2017.

Close ×

Sign Up For Alerts

Subscribing to APCO alerts gives you instant notification for:

  • Billing & Payments - avoid late payments and disconnection
  • Outage Updates - find out if there's an outage at your address and when power will be back on

Win an Xbox One with Alerts!

Enroll in alerts to be eligible to win. Subscribing to I&M alerts gives you instant notification for:

  • Billing & Payments - avoid late payments and disconnection
  • Outage Updates - find out if there's an outage at your address and when power will be back on

Loading video...