Thompson Announces U.S. EPA Grant to the Galeton, Austin, Coudersport, Northern Potter and Oswayo Valley School Districts

Oct 4, 2010

Washington, D.C.—U.S Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-Howard, today announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $119,525 Environmental Education grant to the Galeton (lead organization), Austin, Coudersport, Northern Potter and Oswayo Valley School Districts, with their regional and commonwealth partners.

 Thompson said “I was particularly pleased to learn that of 336 applications submitted to EPA, 34 requests were funded and that, of all submissions, the grant submitted by the Potter County consortium was ranked number one, throughout the country.”

According to David Wishard, Superintendent of the Galeton School District, the goal of this program is to “Improve 7th-12th grade students’ awareness of threats to the environment and natural habitats; enhance students’ knowledge and application of math, science and technology (MST) content as it relates to environmental concerns; and prepare district students to become environmental stewards as they monitor the water quality of rivers (Allegheny, Genesee and Susquehanna Rivers), streams, creeks and local aquifers in Potter County to determine the environmental impacts attendant with natural gas extraction from Marcellus Shale and other activities in the region.”

Thompson said, “Collectively, the five partner districts serve the entirety of Potter County, characterized by its more than one million acres of wilderness and more than 800 miles of streams.  Communities must be knowledgeable about the quality of the local water sources that are critical to the habitat health of the area.  Students will have a chance to do objective, scientific studies about the Marcellus and how the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection seriously is monitoring the environment related to gas extraction, and making sure companies are vigilant.”

Wishard and Superintendents Matthew Hutcheson (Austin), Alanna Huck (Coudersport), Scott Graham (Northern Potter) and Charles Wicker (Oswayo Valley) stated that: “EPA funding will make possible the integration of the Project WET curriculum and the Healthy Water, Healthy People (HWHP) water quality program into standards-based math, science and technology (MST) instruction to establish a formal environmental education curriculum that will improve the academic achievement of ±1200, 7th-12th grade students. Project WET will enable students to understand: the physical/chemical properties of water; the hydrologic cycle; the role of water in Earth systems; the cultural/social significance of water; the common methods of water/non-point pollution management; and the importance of environmental stewardship. Used in conjunction with Project WET curriculum, HWHP lessons will enable district educators to use nearby water bodies as living learning laboratories for understanding water quality issues. The proposed project also calls for participation of 35 district MST teachers will participate in 80 hours of professional development that will enhance their environmental education teaching skills and improve their content knowledge of water resource issues.”

Wishard also noted that: “At present, there are no environmental education classes in the districts nor is environmental education integrated into the districts’ PA standards based curriculum. On our own, our districts do not have the means to provide environmental education programs for our students and communities so we are most grateful for the EPA funding that will make possible this needed environmental education initiative.”