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Donegal pupils taught how to protect watersheds

| Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Students Mackenzie Rugg, 11; Tara Tuccarello, 11; and Juliann Kalp, 11, watch environmental educator Nancy Martin of the Pennsylvania Resources Council as she applies “pollutants ” to surface board. Martin presented a watershed awareness program to teacher Monica Mullin’s fifth- and sixth-grade science classes at Donegal Elementary School. Marilyn Forbes | for the Daily Courier nov 2012

Learning how to protect watersheds is important, and the two-day program students at the Donegal Elementary participated in recently stressed numerous ways in which they could do their part to help the environment.

Environmental educator Nancy Martin of the Pennsylvania Resources Council presented the watershed awareness program to teacher Madonna Mullin's fifth- and sixth-grade science classes at Donegal Elementary School.

Mullin heard of the two-session, interactive program in early fall and was thrilled that the students could participate.

“This has been just great,” Mullin said, adding that she too learned about the environment and watershed issues from Martin.

“I can't believe how much I have learned through this,” Mullin added. “She (Martin) is an excellent presenter.”

The fun and interesting hands-on program showed students first hand how they can change small, everyday habits to help the environment and the watersheds in the area.

“I was really surprised to find out that there are things — like not using as many chemicals and cleaning up after my pets — that could really help,” student Mackenzie Rugg, 11, said. “I can do little things that can make a big difference.”

The program, offered by the PRC, is designed to educate students about the environment and watersheds. It has been presented for the past 10 years to several schools across the state.

The PRC hopes to inspire and inform students by familiarizing them with watersheds and how humans have a direct impact on the ones located in their areas.

The program directly shows students the effects of human behavior and activities on the watershed and water quality, how the water is contaminated, and ways they can help the watershed areas, Martin said.

“The way that we live on the land affects our water,” she told the students. “We can do many things to help our watersheds.”

Martin used a terrain board that symbolized different areas — from residential to businesses and farms.

Asking the students questions on what could become pollutants to the water, Martin added colored crystals to the board to simulate the litter and possible pollutants.

Using a spray bottle, she then created “rain” and showed how all of the pollutants would eventually run, ending up in the water.

Martin then did the demonstration a second time, but demonstrated how, with a little care with litter and less pollutants, the same adverse effects would not happen.

“I learned how not to pollute the streams and to clean up after my pets,” student Jack Weinman, 12, said. “If everyone helps, we can really clean up the water.”

“I'm glad that the students were able to experience this program,” Mullin said. “It really makes you aware of exactly what you can do to help the watersheds.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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