LEWISBURG — A longstanding leader in the movement to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay was the keynote speaker Friday night at the 14th annual Susquehanna River Symposium, held at the Forum, Elaine Langone Center, on the Bucknell University Campus.
The annual symposium is hosted by the Bucknell Center for Sustainability and the Environment.
Ann Pesiri Swanson, a trained wildlife biologist and forest ecologist called her presentation "Chesapeake Bay: Lessons Learned from 40 Years of Watershed Management," and her speech attracted an audience of more than 90 people, comprised of scientists, educators, students, and area residents.
Before she took to the podium Bucknell president John C. Bravman reflected on the value of having the Susquehanna River in such proximity to the school, and it's beauty and its importance to the surrounding community. "We need the Susquehanna River, it doesn't need us," he said, implying that we must do all we can to keep it healthy.
Meanwhile, the focus of Swanson's remarks was on what made the ongoing Chesapeake Restoration movement "world-class. And what I've learned over 36 years trying to improve the health of Chesapeake Bay.
"There has been a lot of focus right now on the things Pennsylvania is not doing," she said. "However what I would tell you is that we have gotten halfway to our goal. That means we have reduced the pollution by half when the population has grown by half. That is an extraordinary achievement."
By looking at the lessons learned so far, so that then, moving forward, Swanson said, "we can capture that second half. Pennsylvania has the biggest lift, but there is a reason and that is almost half of the watershed, 42 percent, is in Pennsylvania. So, of course, Pennsylvania has the biggest load.
"It also has the highest density of streams in the United States," she explained. "So there is water, water, everywhere in Pennsylvania, which means pollution can be carried quickly by an adjacent stream. Most of the pollutants are the result of farm runoff. There are ways to deal with that and not hurt the farmer."
Swanson is a powerful, passionate animated speaker, accentuating the points she wanted to make by waving her hands and gesturing to the audience.
She listed 10 key lessons learned in her career to achieve success. "Remember, as scientists, you'll have to deal with legislators."
Those lessons include making sure you translate science into policy, have a structure for decision making within your organization, and always involve the highest level of leadership, whether that is a state representative or a college president.
The symposium continues all day, today, beginning with opening comments at the Forum in the Elaine Langone Center (ELC). The rest of the day's schedule is as follows:
—9:15-10:45 a.m. Plenary Talks, The Forum, ELC
—11 a.m.-noon Breakout Discussions, The Forum, Rooms 241 A-D, ELC
—1:30-2:30 p.m. Oral Presentations, The Forum, Rooms 241 A-D, ELC
—2:30-3:30 p.m. Exhibits, Center Room (Rm. 256), ELC
—3:30-4:30 p.m. Oral Presentations, The Forum, Rooms 241 A-D, ELC