Oconto Falls teacher attends bioenergy institute

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Oconto Falls High School science teacher Candice Behnke recently attended the Bioenergy Institute for Educators, a teacher workshop hosted by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Energy Institute.

Held from June 20-24, the five-day program offers teachers the opportunity to learn about the latest developments in bioenergy research and to discover hands-on education materials and activities for use in their classrooms.

During the institute, Behnke toured UW-Madison labs and field sites dedicated to developing cellulosic biofuels — biofuels derived from non-food crops such as switchgrass — and worked with 18 other teachers to develop classroom projects on key bioenergy concepts.

“While touring the lab facilities, I realized that the scientific research conducted at UW-Madison is not much different than what I have my own students do at Oconto Falls High School,” Behnke said. “I am looking forward to my students conducting independent research similar to what I learned about this week at the Bioenergy Institute.”

A 2015 state finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Behnke has taught at Oconto Falls High School for 16 years.

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center is one of three Bioenergy Research Centers created by the U.S. Department of Energy to promote transformational breakthroughs and build the foundation of new cellulosic biofuels technology. The Wisconsin Energy Institute is the center’s primary home.