Pennsylvania Update

From the Desk of Harry Campbell

Spring 2019

CBF's Education Universe Has A New StAR

CBF's new one-day Pennsylvania Student Action and Restoration program (PA StAR) moves students from field investigation to action for improving water quality in Pennsylvania's rivers and streams.

CBF has added a StAR to its universe of education programs in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Student Action and Restoration program (PA StAR) moves students in grades six through 12 and teachers from building awareness of water quality to taking actions that improve the Keystone State’s rivers and streams.

"This new land-based program takes the field experience that students may have had with CBF before, such as with the Susquehanna Watershed Environmental Education Program (SWEEP), to the next level," CBF's PA StAR Program Educator Kassie Fenn says.

"Students will do a field investigation as well as an action project," Fenn adds. "We can take a stream survey and look at the water quality, for example, and then potentially move on to a riparian buffer planting or other activity and connect how buffers impact water quality and the health of the streams."

PA StAR students and teachers will focus on concepts, investigations, and actions that are relevant to their local curriculum and community.

Concepts include land-use and agricultural impacts, watershed dynamics, stream ecology, water quality, soil health, and native and invasive species.

CBF’s StAR students will conduct investigations through biological stream surveys, water chemistry monitoring, soil health evaluations, riparian buffer assessments, map and land-use studies, canoeing, and fly fishing.

Student actions can be tree planting, stream cleanup, storm-drain stenciling, invasive-species removal, rain-garden stewardship, pollinator planting, rain-barrel construction, and others.

Land conservancies and conservation partners open their properties as field sites for student-centered learning and stewardship. Seven PA StAR classes have been scheduled for the program’s first spring season.

Students participating in CBF's SWEEP, now in its 29th spring season, spend time on and in the water. They paddle canoes and investigate the health of local waterways through a variety of hands-on activities like up-close studies of bugs and other species living in the waterway.

PA StAR is also linked to CBF's Mentors in Agricultural Conservation (MAC) job-shadowing program. MAC pairs students with CBF restoration specialists to do restoration work and talk with farmers about conservation projects on their farms.

Fenn says that through the action-oriented PA StAR program, students will hopefully develop an interest in becoming student leaders.

To that end, CBF’s Student Leadership Council in the Keystone State lead a successful effort in the state legislature to designate the Eastern hellbender as Pennsylvania's official state amphibian and its link to the critical need for clean rivers and streams in the Commonwealth.

—Harry Campbell
Pennsylvania Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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