Posted by Ron Wilshire
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Hannah Bequeath, Education Outreach Coordinator for the Clarion Conservation District, has had a busy winter.
(Pictured above: Hannah Bequeath Describes Outreach and Education from Clarion Conservation District.)
The Clarion Conservation District’s goal, from its inception in 1938, has been the promotion of wise land use in agriculture and the developing community through education or technical assistance.
Graduating from Clarion University with a degree in Environmental Biology, Hannah hit the ground running (hiking) when she started. On Monday, she outlined some of the Conservation District activities for members of the Clarion Rotary Club.
“We started at the Farmington Township Park and went on the Trail 66,” Hannah said. “We had a fun hike, a really good turnout, and it ended up being perfect timing because it had just snowed the night before.
“We were the first ones on the trail when we got there and saw a lot of different wildlife tracks, and it was a blast. There were some kids and a good mix of people, and I shared some different adaptations that wildlife can use and survive these harsh conditions of our environment in Pennsylvania.”
Over the years, meeting the needs of the residents of Clarion County has expanded the role of the conservation district into areas of water quality, erosion and sediment control, environmental education, dirt and gravel road maintenance, and nutrient management. The duties delegated by the State Conservation Commission are administered by a volunteer board of directors. The board members, a vital part of this organization, offer years of experience in agriculture, business, science, technology, education, and public policy.
Hannah has also reached out to Clarion County schools as part of her education mission, and Sligo Elementary was one of the first to welcome her.
“I went to their first-grade class, and I did a lesson on the water cycle and the signs of snow. We got to act out the water cycle and get them moving around and included some science experiments to demonstrate the water cycle. We got to observe some snowflakes and what they look like with a magnifying glass.”
The class and teacher also talked about different ways to protect water resources and why water is so important.
A fifth-grade class also explored food webs.
“They had to organize different species in a food chain, depending on what ate what. They had different stations around the classroom and different types of foods that the birds would eat and then different tools that represented different bird beaks and shapes and sizes and things. They got to learn and see hands-on that certain bird beaks worked better than others.”
The district received a small grant from PACD (Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts) for a source-pollution-themed program about protecting our water resources from pesticides and fertilizers.
“It’s more directed to gardeners or homeowners who are planting their gardens and planning to take care of their plants and maybe apply some pesticides and fertilizers.”
People are also taught about some natural alternatives and that can lead to the start of local businesses. For example, John Scott Port of Clarion Farms’ manure compost business., according to Hannah.
“He’s had a lot of good feedback from it, and he takes it to Pittsburgh and sells it by the bag super-fast, even down there. He has a really cool process to make his compost. He utilizes different brewery grains from the brewery in town and wood chips from loggers in the community and uses all of these resources that would otherwise be wasted to make this manure compost.”
According to District Manager Trudy Alexander, funding is received through a line item in the governor’s budget and grants projects are also sought.
“We also do the dirt and gravel,” said Trudy. “That’s become a big thing for townships. We have almost $400,000.00 we’re allocating to townships in Clarion County for maintenance.
“We do a lot behind the scenes.”
The Clarion Conservation Board of Directors includes:
Eugene Metcalf – Chairman
Keith Decker – Vice Chairman
Nancy Kadunce – Treasurer
Tabassam Shah- Secretary
Andy Turner – Director
Hunter McClelland- Director
Wayne Brosius – Commissioner