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Know the West

Environmental education takes a ride

  With only a bike to call his home, Mike Kahn is on a mission this summer. He wants to educate children about nature and the environment - while he pedals almost 4,000 miles from California to Maine.

Kahn is the former office manager for Environmental Volunteers, a nonprofit group based in Palo Alto, Calif., and dedicated to environmental education. Riding from coast to coast began as a personal challenge, but it soon morphed into an opportunity to do outreach across the country, he says.

Using a laptop computer, a solar panel and a digital camera, Kahn is documenting his experiences on the Web and corresponding with students in a year-round elementary school. He replies to their questions about the natural world with pictures and stories from his trip. A group of second-graders asked Kahn what native plants he would see in the San Francisco Bay area. He responded with photos of mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana), explaining how to identify the plant and how to use it to treat poison oak and stinging nettle exposure.

"I am using the latest technology and solar energy for this project to demonstrate that sustainability is an important aspect of stewardship," he says. "Technology is great, but we need to look at how we use it in order to help benefit society, not just to make money."

To track Kahn's progress, visit the Coast to Coast Discovery Ride on the Web at www.EVols.org/discover.htm.