Allegheny College Receives Grant to Support Creek Connections Program’s Water Quality Monitoring

Allegheny College has received a $1,695 grant from BHE GT&S and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s 2022 Watershed Mini Grant Program in support of Creek Connections, an environmental outreach program that brings hands-on environmental education to K-12 schools throughout western Pennsylvania. The grant will be used to fund the purchase of a flow meter, an important data collection tool for stream water quality work.

“Adding this data to our regular water quality monitoring data will make it a lot more useful and add to a deeper understanding of all the connections these physical and chemical parameters have,” says Wendy Kedzierski, Creek Connections program director. “Additionally, adding more scientific tools for students to get hands-on experience with will only enhance their learning and confidence in science. Students learn best by doing and actually retain information when they take part in watershed research.”

For years, financial support for the Watershed Mini Grant Program was provided through the generosity of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. The company that bought Dominion Energy’s interstate natural gas and storage business in 2021, BHE GT&S, is continuing the 17-year philanthropic legacy of supporting local watersheds through this grant program. The grant program aids the region’s watershed groups with awards that cover program expenses in three areas: water quality monitoring, watershed restoration, and organizational promotion and outreach.

Don Houser, director for external affairs for BHE GT&S’ northeast region, says he is pleased to continue the philanthropic efforts that help improve local rivers and streams.

“It’s an absolute privilege to support these organizations as they complete meaningful conservation work in our communities. BHE GT&S has been inspired by the commitment showcased by the mini-grant recipients and congratulate this year’s organizations for their outstanding work and commitment to water quality,” he adds.

Jenifer Christman, vice president of watershed conservation for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, says this funding source is vital to local communities. “The Conservancy thanks the BHE GT&S for continuing this commitment to assist small local watershed organizations in our region with projects to directly benefit and improve water quality in their communities,” she says. “Many of these projects, which are making a difference, just wouldn’t happen if not for this funding.”

Visiting about 40 middle and high school classrooms and nearby stream sites, Creek Connections reaches about 6,000 students each year. The program also reaches 100,000 students indirectly through presentations at school assemblies, board meetings and in the community through older students teaching younger students and loaner modules that reach educators who aren’t in the formal Creek Connections water monitoring program.

Earlier this year, Creek Connections was awarded the MWEE Partner of Excellence Award at the 2022 Virtual PAEE Conference, “It’s in Our Nature,” for its work throughout Western Pennsylvania and dozens of schools in the Ohio River Basin.