Allegheny’s Creek Connections Receives $40,000 Grable Foundation Grant

Allegheny College’s Creek Connections program has received a $40,000 grant from the Grable Foundation to fund educator expenses in the Pittsburgh area, such as workshops, water-testing kits and school travel over the next two years.

“The grant allows us to continue our high level of support to Pittsburgh-area teachers, including materials for water-quality monitoring and staff time to assist schools in person and with travel,” says Wendy Kedzierski, Creek Connections director.

Since 1995, Creek Connections has been using neighborhood streams as outdoor laboratories for ongoing water quality investigations done by students. The program’s mission is to bring regional public school students an authentic natural science research experience and an appreciation for local waterways. The program extends the reach of the schools’ science curricula and offers assistance and materials that otherwise would not be available to teachers.

“Our teachers tell us year after year how much they appreciate the in-person assistance they receive from us to keep the project going throughout the school year,” says Kedzierski. “Our goal is to meet with teachers and their students on a monthly basis while they are conducting water-quality monitoring and working on stream-related projects.”

About 25 Pittsburgh-area schools are participating this year in Creek Connections. Altogether, 60 teachers participate in the program at more than 50 schools in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and western Michigan.

“You can’t understate the impact of getting students outside and into a creek, and teachers are more likely to involve their students when they have lots of support,” says Laura Branby, Pittsburgh-area coordinator for the program. “Creek Connections not only provides materials for teachers and their students, but also the time and attention of Creek Connections personnel.

“There are three rivers in Pittsburgh and a creek in every valley and alongside many major roadways, yet most students have never spent time in or on the waters,” says Branby. “You can see the surprise in the students’ faces as they complete water chemistry tests and realize that our creeks and rivers are healthier than they expected and that there is life in them. It fortifies the students to take on the challenge of making them even better.”

The Grable Foundation provides support to organizations that improve the lives of children in the Pittsburgh region from early childhood through the formative years, inside the classroom and out.