Lycoming College receives grant for the Waterdale Environmental Education Center

Lycoming College recently received a $24,200 grant from the PPL Foundation to support the Clean Water Institute (CWI) with its enhancement and expansion of hands-on environmental education programming for school-age students at the Waterdale Environmental Educati­on Center in South Williamsport.

The CWI provides a gateway to the natural resource heritage of North Central Pennsylv­ania. Focused on the West Branch of the Susqu­ehanna River and its tributaries (including, but not limited to, Pine, Loyalsock, Lycoming and Muncy Creeks), CWI works year-round to foster better understanding and health of our waterways.

The Waterdale Environmental Educa­tion Center is a joint effort between CWI and the Williamsport Munic­ipal Water Authority. Other partners include the Lycoming Audubon Society, Lycoming College Educ­ation Department, Lyco­m­ing County Conserv­ation District, Northcen­tral Pennsy­lvania Conse­rvancy, Pennsylvania Dep­art­ment of Environmental Protec­tion, Trout Unlimited, United States Geological Survey and West Branch Regional Authority. This partnership provides opportunities for community education and outreach programs which emphasize the science and importance of good stewardship, as well as the protection of our natural resources and public water supply sources.

The Center currently provides lessons and experiences for approximately 300 Lycoming County school-age students, typically from grades 3-6, each fall and spring. Support from the PPL Foundation will provide for the development of enhanced lesson plans and acquisition of additional equipment and models for hands-on learning.

Experiential learning opportunities for students at the Center include capturing and identifying stream invertebrates, sampling and analyzing stream water chemistry, participating in wetland and forest scavenger hunts, conducting nature trail wildlife observation, identifying tree and bird species, and interacting with educational models that illustrate water ecology.

Expanding the Center’s educational offerings and equipment availability will allow the program to reach a greater number of students; provide a wider variety of lesson offerings to meet local elementary and middle school teachers’ learning objectives; expand the curriculum, currently geared toward upper elementary and middle school students, to include high school-level lesson plans; and replace aging/borrowed equipment and models.

Additionally, expanded educational offerings at the Center will create new opportunities for Lycoming students pursuing education certification in the sciences to interact with and mentor the school-age students who participate in the Center’s programs. A recent grant from the National Science Foundation to Lycoming to expand the number of science education students will help support this opportunity.