The brutally cold winter this year is a reminder to all of us that energy for heat is a necessity for living in northern Pennsylvania. Throughout the year, energy is also essential to operate local farms and businesses, keep our appliances running, and to move our vehicles. While some of this energy comes from fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil, there are other renewable sources of energy that can help us heat our homes, keep our local economy and appliances running, and even move our vehicles.

From Feb. 1 through Feb. 9 a group of 12 Middlebury College students will be travelling from their school in the small town of Middlebury, Vermont to visit Bradford County and Three Mile Island and learn about the role of all types of energy in the lives of Pennsylvania residents. Most importantly the students will be sharing what they have learned about the use and potential for renewables in Bradford County during a public forum from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Wysox Fire Hall on Thursday, Feb. 6.

Jeannie Bartlett, one of the student leaders of the trip describes Middlebury College's broad interest in the energy being produced in Pennsylvania and their learning goals:

"We're hoping to explore the diversity of perspectives around natural gas extraction, and to record stories from landowners and gas field workers. We will bring back what we hear to our own learning community in Vermont, sharing the perspectives we gain and the stories we record. We hope to develop nuanced and personal understandings of what natural gas development has looked like in Bradford County. We are working with the Pennsylvania Landowner Group for Awareness and Solutions (P.L.G.A.S.) to aid their efforts at looking for solutions. In preparation for our visit, we have been researching the finances and other details of alternative energy sources in Pennsylvania including solar, geothermal, and wind, and we hope that we can help residents find local contractors, generous financing, and sound financial incentives for renewable energy."

Middlebury College students contacted P.L.G.A.S. last September to find out how they could help the organization grow and achieve its mission of educating landowners and finding solutions. As a grassroots organization run completely by volunteers, P.L.G.A.S. was formed to serve as an educational resource and information hub for landowners in north-central and northeastern Pennsylvania. In the midst of the Marcellus shale gas boom the organization's focus has been on raising awareness about the environmental, social, and economic impacts of natural gas developments. Today, while the focus is still on providing educational resources and raising awareness among landowners, P.L.G.A.S. is also hoping to keep the conversation moving forward by providing a range of solutions and a diversity of perspectives regarding individual and collective energy and land use decisions.

This is the third public forum P.L.G.A.S. has held in Bradford County in the past three years.