In August of 2013, a fantastical new program supported by Radio Disney was introduced in cities all over Ohio. The goal of “Rocking in Ohio” was purportedly to foster children’s interest in science and technology. As a biologist, I am always looking for the opportunity to get my kids interested in STEM careers — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. And what child could pass up fun activities designed by the inventive people at Disney?
Last fall, the pavilion in the Wayne County fair was a a hive of activity. Children and their parents took advantage of a program orchestrated by Radio Disney Cleveland and Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEEP). Games that involved families, individuals and teams were both entertaining and educational as they portrayed seismic waves, built pipelines and provided the opportunity to guess what objects in our every day lives are the result of oil and gas production.
As I stood there reading the information, I was shocked the oil and gas company would be so bold in their attempts to gain supporters. Wooster, Ohio is home to the Agricultural Technical Institute of the Ohio State University. In this primarily rural setting, the students are groomed to take over the family farm in new and technical ways. These are not the same farmers their parents and grandparents were. As a reflection of our changing energy needs, the school is offering more courses and seminars in green energy. Is this why the oil and gas industry is seeking out new methods to keep their dirty energy fuel seem fresh and non-polluting? OOGEEEP is a nonprofit education and public outreach group of the Ohio drilling industry.
In an interview with the Newark Advocate, OOGEEEP executive Rhonda Reda was quoted as saying “We want kids to get excited about science; it allows science to be fun. Who better to help than Radio Disney?” OOGEEEP designed the program to combine information about oil and gas creation and production with entertaining kid activities. The program also highlights the sciences that are involved in the drilling industry: chemistry and geology. Are these programs teaching children a pro-drilling story that they can bring home and share with their families over Sunday dinner? With this in mind, consider that one of the show’s big stops was to Youngstown Ohio’s OH WOW!, a science and technology center for children that opened in 2011. Between January 2011 and February 2012, Youngstown was impacted by 167 earthquakes. No earthquakes had been recorded in the Youngstown area between the late 18th century and 2010. And a study from the Journal of Geophysical Research concluded that those quakes were directly linked to an injection well that was used for disposing o the waste water from the fracking industry. The well was recently shut down and the quakes have ceased since then. Ohio’s parents and grandparents were outraged and followed up with a 80,000+ petition organized by MCAF partner, Climate Parents and a #DisneyFracked Twitter campaign by the Sierra Club.
“The sole intent of the collaboration between Radio Disney and the nonprofit Rocking in Ohio educational initiative was to foster kids’ interest in science and technology…Having been inadvertently drawn into a debate that has no connection with this goal, Radio Disney has decided to withdraw from the few remaining installments of the program.” ~ a Radio Disney spokesperson said in an email to The Huffington Post.
When dirty energy companies use our children in this manner, it’s an eye opener that parents need to be aware of. This campaign may have been shut down, but parents, in Ohio, and all over the US, must stay vigilant to influences that aim to pollute our children.
Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com