K-12

New Year, New Student Challenge

By Alysa Suero

As 2010 winners in the Elementary School category, the students of Worcester Elementary were all smiles after the award ceremony!

The new year is soon here.  What opportunities await us as we turn the calendar?  If you’re a student leading a school group or participating in a class project to study and protect the Schuylkill River, the new year brings an opportunity to show off your project to a regional audience.

Nominations are now open for the 8th annual Schuylkill Action Network Drinking Water Scholastic Awards, and qualifying for consideration is easy!  All you have to do is lead or participate in a classroom lesson or outdoor project that improves the water quality of the Schuylkill River, a source of drinking water for approximately 1.5 million people.  Previous winning projects include building a campus rain garden, planting trees near a creek, and creating and filming short public service announcements about keeping our rivers clean.

Students in kindergarten through college are eligible for a prize, but only if you enter by March 2, 2012 in one of four age categories (elementary, middle, high school and college).  Teachers, students, parents and community members can nominate a class, an individual college student or a campus club!

The Schuylkill Action Network (SAN) is a collaboration of more than one hundred organizations and individuals, including EPA Region 3, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Philadelphia Water Department, the Delaware River Basin Commission, and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.  The goal of the SAN is to improve the water resources of the Schuylkill River watershed.

To learn more about the annual awards, including nomination criteria, or to nominate your class or student leader online, visit: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=v6qlnbcab&oeidk=a07e5425qmq59cca5d3

Remember, the deadline for nominations is March 2, 2012.

In the meantime, share your comments below about what you do to keep the Schuylkill River clean.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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It’s a Boy! It’s a Girl! It’s an Environmentalist!

sanvideoBy Trey Cody

I remember being in grade school, and my school was having an Earth Day celebration.  This was my first encounter with being educated about protecting our environment, and it inspired me to do what I could to make a difference.

I did small acts then, like encouraging my family to recycle and reduce their water use. In high school, I pushed to implement a recycling program. In college, I became a Penn State Eco-Rep, and I teach students how they can live a more sustainable lifestyle.  Currently, I am a student intern in EPA Mid-Atlantic’s Water Protection Division.  All of these acts and the ones in between would not have been possible if I was not motivated when being educated on environmental protection from an early age.  EPA agrees that environmental education is vital in helping to conserve and protect our environment and takes time to recognize schools that make outstanding efforts to groom the next generation of environmentalists.

School may be out for summer, but students and schools in the Schuylkill River watershed haven’t taken a vacation from protecting their watershed.  Some of these schools recognize the importance of teaching the younger generations about environmental topics such as water conservation and pollution sources. And they are not only teaching but also modeling good practices in management of their own facilities.

For their part in protecting drinking water sources through educational programs, class projects, and land management practices, several schools, colleges, and universities were recognized at the 2011 Schuylkill Action Network Drinking Water Scholastic Awards. This event was hosted at Upper Perkiomen School District Education Center in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania. In attendance was EPA Region 3 Deputy Regional Administrator Bill Early who spoke about the importance of environmental education. Some environmental acts that were recognized included: installing rain gardens, planting and repairing buffers, and testing water. Some students also created educational videos to educate the watershed community on why it’s important to keep our water clean.

Click on the picture above to watch a video overview of the 2011 Schuylkill Action Network Drinking Water Scholastic Awards. Click on the link to learn more about the Schuylkill Action Network and how they are promoting education and outreach.  Have kids at home?  How are you educating them about environmental protection? Leave a comment and let us know!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

The Schuylkill River Movie – Starring YOU!

Schuykill Action NetworkAre you a student who lives or attends school in the Schuylkill River watershed?  Do you enjoy activities along the Schuylkill River or one of the streams that flow into it?  Have you ever left a movie theater thinking, “I could make movies”?  If you answered yes to these questions, then the Schuylkill Action Network wants YOU to make a film!

The Schuylkill Action Network (SAN) is a collaboration of more than one hundred organizations and individuals, including EPA Region 3, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Philadelphia Water Department, the Delaware River Basin Commission, and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.  The goal of the SAN is to improve the water resources of the Schuylkill River watershed.

To encourage people to return to the river for fun, the SAN is launching a student Schuylkill Stories video contest with the theme “This is My Watershed.”  If you’re a student in elementary, middle, high school or college tell us, in your original video 3-minutes-or-less, what you love about the Schuylkill River watershed.  From fishing to rowing to bird watching, sketching and picnicking, the 2,000 square mile watershed gives everyone plenty of opportunities for fun.  Creativity is encouraged!  Use your own video footage, animation, claymation or music to show the world what you love most about your watershed.

Is amateur filmmaking not really your thing?  Don’t forget about SAN’s other student competition, the annual Drinking Water Scholastic Awards.  The awards recognize schools in the Schuylkill River watershed that promote drinking water protection through educational programs or class projects.  Did you know that the Schuylkill River watershed has 52 drinking water intakes that collectively serve 1.5 million people?  Moreover, many are surprised to learn that schools are one of the largest combined property owners in the entire watershed!  What is your school doing to spread the word about protecting sources of drinking water?

For more information about both contests, including prizes and deadlines, visit the SAN website.

In the meantime, share your comments below about what you love to do in, on or by the Schuylkill River!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Building Appreciation for the Environment with the Next Generation

Every year, the Mid-Atlantic Water Protection Division does a few Earth Day presentations at local schools. We have always felt that it’s important to educate young people about protecting the environment.

In certain ways, educating the next generation is one of the most important parts of EPA’s entire mission. This year, we went to a few schools including Julia R. Masterman at 17th & Spring Garden Streets in Philadelphia. Masterman is a public magnet school that includes both a middle school and a high school with young enthusiastic teachers, who continually use their science curriculum to talk about environmental issues.

Sometimes a short presentation on the class’s Smartboard about the history of EPA is offered, including old photos of the Cuyahoga River fire which happened way back in 1969. Or we talk about the first Earth Day in 1970, and how it led to the formation of the EPA. Other times, we change speeds a bit and do a simple chemistry experiment using red cabbage juice as a pH indicator. pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity and changes in pH can also affect the aquatic life in a stream.

For an experiment about pH, we use red cabbage juice because it changes colors quite dramatically when mixed with baking soda, vinegar or even tap water. Purple, dark green and light blue…even a bright yellow can easily be created with the right substance. Middle schoolers love looking at the different colors, and some are inspired them to ask us a few questions about the Schuylkill River or other water bodies in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Read about successful restoration of pH-impaired streams in the Mid-Atlantic states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

What are some of the lessons you’ve shared with young people about protecting the health of our streams and rivers? The future of our environment is in their hands.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.