Pennsylvania wants students to know their watershed

Agency plays lead role in new Watershed Education Task Force

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  • Hackers Falls, near Milford in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (Photo by Pamela Chergotis)

A new statewide K-12 environmental education task force wants more Pennsylvania students to know the watershed they live in, and take action to protect freshwater resources.

“Many people don’t know what a watershed is,” said Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). “We’re excited to collaborate with environmental education leaders statewide to help change that, starting with young students. The earlier people learn how human actions affect their local network of streams and rivers, the better our chances of preventing and reducing water pollution.”

The 20-member Pennsylvania Watershed Education Task Force is funded by a $300,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Program Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Stroud Water Research Center heads the task force. DEP is joined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators, Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks, and Millersville University on the leadership team.

DEP Environmental Education staff will help ensure that Pennsylvania work plans developed by the task force meet the educational requirements of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement signed by the Commonwealth, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, and the District of Columbia.

The task force will work to improve students’ watershed education and stewardship, and increase environmental literacy in general, by:

Training approximately 400 traditional and non-traditional educators

Developing environmental literacy-focused partnerships and a network of watershed education providers

Increasing the number of NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training grant proposals

Supporting and delivering meaningful watershed educational experience programming, providing local, hands-on watershed learning experiences

The task force held its first meeting in November at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center in State College.

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