Creek Connections Program at Allegheny College Awarded $5,000 Grant
MEADVILLE, Pa. — Feb. 15, 2011 — The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, through funding from the Dominion Educational Partnership, has awarded a $5,000 grant to Allegheny College to support the Creek Connections watershed ecology education program. Each year Creek Connections reaches more than 6,000 students in 40 elementary, middle and high schools in Western Pennsylvania and Southwestern New York.
The grant will fund scientific equipment for students and teachers and defray their travel expenses to fieldwork sites in the French Creek and Allegheny and Ohio River watersheds. With assistance from Allegheny students and staff, participants in Creek Connections visit local waterways at least eight times during the school year to conduct water quality tests and collect samples to analyze in their classrooms.
As part of their work, classes post their findings to the Creek Connections website so they are accessible to other participants and the public. Each class also identifies and completes an independent research project that is presented at symposia held in the spring on the Allegheny campus and in Pittsburgh.
“By engaging school students in the hands-on study of water, we help them learn research and communication skills and become environmentally informed citizens connected to their communities,” said Jim Palmer, co-founder and director of Creek Connections and associate professor of biology and environmental science at Allegheny College. “We appreciate the Dominion Educational Partnership’s generous support of our efforts to strengthen science education in schools throughout the region.”
Founded in 1995, Creek Connections sponsors a range of initiatives, including professional development workshops for teachers on methods in aquatic chemistry and ecology. The program also provides teachers with watershed activity modules containing equipment, multimedia resources, books and visual aids for use in classrooms. In addition, Creek Connections hosts two sessions of Creek Camp each July for high school sophomores and juniors interested in studying biology and fresh water ecology.
Creek Connections was honored with the Special Award in Environmental Education at the 2010 Carnegie Science Awards and recognized as the 2008 “Outstanding Environmental Education Program” by the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators.