Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 5: Slovenians show innovation in schools

Much of every Green Bike Tour is about education, where we and the people we encounter learn more about renewable energy options. The Slovenia tour this year is no different in that way, but on Wednesday there was a twist: one visit provided education about education.

Our ride Wednesday from Lake Bled to Skofja Loka — about 25 miles by road but about 40 taking the route we rode — included a stop at the Biotehniski Center Naklo, which is known as a “biotechnical high school." It is a high school and junior college dedicated to the environment.

About 700 students take courses in horticulture, nature conservation, agriculture (greenhouse gardening scale) and many other areas that emphasize nature. Like Iowa, Slovenia is going through a reduction in school-age population, yet this school expanded its student body last year.

We met with 10 students and four teachers, including the vice principal. I talked with four girls who all wanted to be nature guides, and Joe Bolkcom had a long conversation with a boy whose family had a commercial orchard that he wanted to take over.

Just a short ride from Skofja Loka is the village of Suha, where Senator Tom Harkin’s mother was born and lived for 21 years before emigrating to America. We visited the small and ornate 15th century church there and took photos going into the town, so John Moreland, a member of Senator Harkin’s staff, could document our visit. Slovenians are proud to have three members of the United States Senate of Slovenian descent, Senator Harkin, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Senator George Voinovich of Ohio.

(These posts are from IPP executive director David Osterberg. Read his longer daily posts on the Des Moines Register blog. Also follow Joe Bolkcom's posts.)

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The Green Bike Tour is sponsored by The University of Iowa's Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, The Iowa Policy Project, and The Fred & Charlotte Hubbell Foundation, and Kelly Webworks.