Pennsylvania Student Action and Restoration Program

Students at creek 695x352

Students investigate macroinvertebrates and monitor water chemistry during a Pennsylvania Student Action and Restoration program field experience.

CBF Staff

Program Overview (PDF) | Apply for a Student Action and Restoration Program | Forms for Teachers and Parents

Ready to take your outdoor field experience to the next level?

The Pennsylvania Student Action and Restoration (StAR) Program empowers participants to confidently identify clean water issues and lead their peers in action or restoration projects. Participants build awareness through hands-on scientific investigations in land-use and agricultural impacts, watershed dynamics, stream and forest ecology, water chemistry, soil health, fly fishing, and more! 

Drawing on information from the investigations, CBF educators facilitate a group action project to address a local clean water issue. Action projects can include tree plantings, riparian buffer stewardship, invasive species removal, habitat creation, stream clean-ups, storm drain stenciling, and more. Participants learn the tools and skills necessary to improving water quality in Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams!

CBF educators work with teachers to align program investigations with classroom-based topics. Customize your field experience to complement your school curriculum and support state standards. Following the field experience, students and teachers may choose to develop an action plan suitable for their own schoolyard.

The Pennsylvania Student Action & Restoration Program is hosted by land conservancies and non-profit partners in the Susquehanna River watershed. Each field site is unique and offers participants a different experience. From the list below, find a site close to your school or explore somewhere new! The PA StAR Program is also available at canoe sites throughout the Susquehanna River watershed. 

Field Site Descriptions

  • Carlisle—LeTort Spring Garden Preserve
    Explore the headwaters of the LeTort Spring Run, a nationally prominent trout fishery and unique limestone stream. This preserve is surrounded by wetlands in various stages of restoration, important bird habitat, and distinct regional history. Prior to its acquisition by Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, LeTort Spring Garden Preserve was once a commercial watercress farm. 
  • Columbia—Columbia Crossing River Trails Center
    Situated along the Susquehanna River, this site offers the opportunity to explore how urban issues impact water quality in a large river ecosystem. The river trails center, managed by Susquehanna Heritage, has rotating exhibits featuring local river history and art. 
  • Gettysburg—Sachs Covered Bridge
    Bordering Gettysburg National Park and Marsh Creek, this site boasts an American Chestnut grove and ecosystems ranging from mature forest, riparian buffer, stream, and meadows. Investigation opportunities abound as participants explore how human land-use, such as agriculture and development, have shaped the ecology of south-central Pennsylvania.  
  • Holtwood—Kelly’s Run Nature Preserve
    Well-maintained trails wind through Mountain Laurel tunnels, pollinator gardens, and a great view of the Susquehanna River from the meadow. This site offers varied investigations from upland forest ecology to aquatic sciences. Learn how land preservation can protect our important water resources.
  • Lebanon—Quittaphailla Educational Wetland Preserve
    At the headwaters of the Quittapahilla Creek, your students can compare and contrast wetland and stream ecology or study the impacts of agriculture and urban development on local waterways. Tree plantings give students the chance to get their hands dirty and envision their own schoolyard tree planting. 
  • Rebersburg—Pointer Haven
    Nestled along Elk Creek, this site’s professional in-stream and riparian restoration efforts offers students the opportunity to study a rebounding ecosystem and contribute to its ongoing improvement. Investigate meadows, young forests, woodcock habitat, and hemlock groves all while seeing the changes that occur when we do our part to restore the land.
  •  Pequea—Climbers Run Nature Preserve
    At this site, a wild trout stream traverses an upland forest, restored meadow, and fledgling riparian buffer with professional in-stream restoration practices. This site also offers opportunities to delve into pond ecology. Learn how preservation and recreation can work together to protect our natural resources.
  • State College—Scotia Barrens and Musser’s Gap
    At Musser’s Gap, follow a tributary to Slab Cabin Run as it flows through the forested base of Tussey Mountain in Rothrock State Forest. The trail leaves the State Forest area and meanders past agricultural land and an expansive riparian buffer area. The Scotia Barrens is a truly unique location! The young forest of pitch pine-scrub oak is home to woodcocks, ruffed grouse and an endangered butterfly. Explore meadows and vernal pools on your way to restored tree plantings.  

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