Whitney Byington ’22 Presents Findings of Discovery Challenge

Chatham Hall
On September 12, Whitney Byington ’22 presented the current findings of her ongoing research into the environmental impact of the steel production industry in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.
Byington has spent the past year speaking with industry experts and conservation groups in order to understand the history of steel production in the area, its decline in the past thirty years, and the dangers posed by the now-abandoned mines. 

Under the guidance of Chatham Hall History Department Chair, Tica Simpson, Byington interviewed watershed conservation groups about the steps being taken to protect Birmingham’s watershed. Through her research, Byington discovered that elements used in the steel production process have been making their way into creeks and rivers throughout Alabama, posing a threat to communities relying on these water sources for their drinking water.  Byington also spoke with Dustin Morin from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation (AML) Program, who shared the many ongoing projects throughout the state to combat environmental degradation. Yet, in Byington’s own words, “The difficulties in reclamation and remediation are not linear, not just legal loopholes or lack of resources, but dimensional, complex conversations that are critical for progress.” Yet, she sees hope for the future of Alabama and states across the country affected by similar environmental threats stemming from steel production, and encouraged the audience in attendance to reach out to their state and national lawmakers to help address this serious concern.

Discovery Challenge programs allow students to design projects that will have them finding answers to their own essential questions. Click here to learn more about our academic programs at Chatham Hall.
An all girls boarding and day school in Southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers Advanced Placement courses, global study and travel, as well as project based learning. Our athletic teams regularly compete at the State level and our exceptional riding program is nationally recognized. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.  
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