PERC NEWS

This page features sustainability-related news from PERC Member Campuses.  Members can log on to add their own post--pictures and videos welcome and encouraged! Our thanks to Susquehanna University student Kevin Jones for doing the initial reporting for this page.

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  • 04 Feb 2016 8:03 PM | Josh Hooper (Administrator)

    Susquehanna offers rare research opportunities for students

    by Kevin Jones

    Susquehanna University first year ecology major David Huntzberry has a research opportunity that not many students have. He was given the chance to work as an assistant at the Freshwater Research Initiative.  Huntzberry explained he became involved in the Initiative because of his childhood interest in studying water and the chance to further his young career.

    “I always enjoyed being around water growing up, and felt it was a good opportunity to further my career,” Huntzberry said.

    Freshwater Research Initiative leader Jonathan Niles went into detail about the origins of the Initiative. He explained that the Fresh Water Research Initiative began in May of 2014 thanks to a grant of $2.25 million from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.  Niles joined the Initiative because it allowed him to do research he was interested in and allowed him to teach undergraduates, which is something he was particularly interested in.

    Niles explained that the Initiative is involved a variety of research projects and works in collaboration with state and federal agencies as well as other colleges. He continued that a lot of the research goes to organizations that are involved in water quality, fish management, and stream classifications as well as other environmental policies. Niles feels that there is not one specific threat to the Susquehanna River, but several threats that steam from human activities.

    “The Susquehanna and its tributaries do not suffer from one threat, but many invasive species, pollution issues, and climate change,” Niles said.

    Niles believes that the health of local streams and the surrounding wildlife is important because people get their drinking water from these local water systems and if the streams are not heathy the water will have to be treated and cleaned which takes a significant amount of resources and manpower. He also thinks that people like to live near heathy bodies of water that they can use for recreational activities like swimming, and boating.  Huntzberry explained that he learned a lot about insects that live in the area during his work for the Initiative.

    “I never knew there were so many bugs in the Susquehanna and how important they are,” Huntzberry said.

    Huntzberry said that what he liked most about his work at the Freshwater Research Initiative was learning how to identify the different kinds of bugs and their importance to river ecology.


  • 26 Jan 2016 8:33 PM | Josh Hooper (Administrator)

    By Kevin Jones

    On Jan. 30, the Penn State Extension of Clinton County will host the third and final installment of their Garden Sense event at Clinton County Extension Learning Center in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

    Clinton County Master Gardener Coordinator Debra Burrows explained that the event hopes to share knowledge about environmentally friendly gardening.

    “The point of the event is to for us to share information about environmentally friendly gardening and lawn care with the community,” Burrows said.

    Burrows said that the event is in its second year and will continue to be an annual event for Clinton County’s Penn State Extension.  She went on to say that the some of the speakers who will make presentations at the event will be from Penn State Extension, while others will be from external organizations.

    For the Jan. 30 event there will be three workshops, according to Penn State Extension’s website http://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/events/garden-sense-2016.

    The first workshop at 9 a.m. will be called Using Plant Resistance to Fight Pests and is presented by Extension Horticulture Educator Thomas Butzler. There will be another workshop on outdoor photography presented by retired Penn State Master Gardener Charles Hildebrand at 10 a.m. The final workshop of the day, on the topic of soil health, will start at 11 a.m. and will be presented by James Harbach and Gerard Troisi who are a cover crop farmer and crop consultant respectively according to Penn State Extension’s website.

    James Harbach started working with Penn State Extension in the summer of 2015 when he hosted a tour for the master gardeners after which he was asked to speak at this year’s Garden Sense event.  This is the first time Harbach has been asked to speak for the Penn State master gardeners, but he is very involved in the agricultural groups in the area.  Harbach was impressed when he met with the master gardeners.

    “What impressed me the most was their genuine concern,” Harbach said. “The event is an excellent opportunity to share our message.” 

    Harbach explained that the topic of soil health, which he will be presenting on, has a significant effect on the areas water quality.

    “Regenerating the soil is one of the things that will help our water quality. If public opinion changes regulations may change,” Harbach said.

    Burrows explained that the event will educate the community and show them environmentally friendly ideas, giving members of the community options.  She went on to further elaborate that some of the things that would be discussed would be environmentally friendly ways of lawn care with less fertilizer and water, focusing on the hours and resources that could be saved.

    Although there is no cost to attend the event, preregistration is required. Those interested in attending can register at Penn State Extention’s website http://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/events/garden-sense-2016.

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