PENNSYLVANIA — Students to Susquehannock State Park are getting up…off the ground that is, thanks to a grant from Bell’s Brewery to the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF).
PPFF is the only non-profit whose mission is Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests, helping to steward parks and forests through projects and volunteerism. When learning of the need for the park educator to have a teaching station and materials to teach watershed education, PPFF applied to Bell’s Brewery.
Susquehannock State Park sits between the Fishing Creek and Muddy Run watersheds and provides a birds-eye view of the Susquehanna River. With more than 60,000 visitors a year, it is a perfect location to teach about the land-water relationships.
With the Bell’s Brewery grant, PPFF will purchase an Enviroscape model of nonpoint source pollution and agricultural runoff, as well as lumber to construct 20 combination benches/tables for educational programming. With these stations and materials, local students and visitors will learn about the environmental issues that affect biodiversity and the quality and quantity of water flowing into the Susquehanna River watershed and downstream to the Chesapeake Bay.
Amy Richards, Community Engagement Specialist at Bell’s Brewery, commented that PPFF was chosen for “its extraordinary water stewardship programming.”
“In the spirit of our commitment to solving the most pressing environmental and social challenges, we share this grant with PPFF!” she added.
The benches will be placed at Hawk Point within the park to provide seating and workspaces for students and other program attendees. Participants of environmental education programs led by the park’s full-time educator will learn how land uses and personal actions affect water quality and quantity, which is especially important as Pennsylvania is behind in meeting the goals of its Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution.
Kelly Ford, an environmental education specialist with the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), said, “I am excited to have these benches and the Enviroscape model to present education about the river and bay to students and community members, Lancaster County has a huge impact on the health of the river and bay system. Presenting this information overlooking the river develops a strong, meaningful connection in students that is hard to instill in the classroom.”
“We believe that the educational programming proposed here would translate into individual behavior changes at school, home, and work, making lasting positive impacts on biodiversity and water quality in the Susquehanna and Bay,” said Marci Mowery, PPFF’s President, “Earlier this year we worked with the park to fund and plant trees, a critical tool in improving water quality. We are excited to continue to invest in Susquehannock State Park.
The trees will also serve as a tool that demonstrates to students and adults steps they can take at home to protect water quality. In addition, PPFF is in the process of acquiring group campfire rings to enhance the group camp area, thus enabling more hands-on learning for large groups in a multi-day format.
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