Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary David E. Hess joined members of the Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps at the Wildwood Lake Sanctuary in Harrisburg at a workshop to learn how to train other volunteer water-quality monitors.
"Volunteer water monitors are a key part of our watershed education and protection strategy," Secretary Hess said. "The volunteers being trained at the workshop will be part of a statewide network of Senior Environment Corps members who are monitoring watersheds and getting involved in other projects to protect and restore Pennsylvania's watersheds and environment. It's exciting to join them as they gain the expertise needed to train other volunteers on how to gather valuable data about our waterways."
Volunteers polished their monitoring and teaching skills by conducting biological surveys and habitat assessments at Dauphin County's Wildwood Lake Sanctuary. The biological surveys consisted of using a "kick" screen to collect and study aquatic life. The habitat assessments involve analyzing samples to get a "snapshot" of the water quality for aquatic life.
"The value of years of knowledge, shared willingly by the volunteers of the Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps as they work to improve their local communities, is beyond measure," said Beth Grove, the corps statewide coordinator. "The opportunities made possible by the support of DEP, the Department of Aging and the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement have expanded the chances for everyone to work together to make a difference. After all, we all live downstream."
Volunteers for Pennsylvania's stream-monitoring program are trained in water-sampling techniques to ensure that the sampling results their water-quality monitoring groups collect from the streams in their watersheds are scientifically valid.
"Our Citizen Volunteer Monitoring Program fosters environmental stewardship by helping communities and monitoring groups find the tools they need to know their water resources better," Secretary Hess said. "The quality data that monitors collect gives us a better understanding of water resources in watersheds across the state."
The Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps consists of 21 chapters, which serve 42 counties.
Volunteer monitors statewide have received more than $493,000 in "Growing Greener" grants for citizen training and education, formation of monitoring groups and monitoring projects.
In 1999, the Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps Program was recognized by the United Nations as one of the world's outstanding environmental programs and was added to the Global 500 Honor Roll.
The Corps also received recognition from Renew America and the President's Council on Sustainable Development.