An agreement reached last week between the Susquehanna University Freshwater Research Institute (FRI) and the Chesapeake Conservancy is keeping young bright minds involved in one of the foremost environmental projects here in Central Pennsylvania.
The agreement will retain the relationship and expand university student internship opportunities and environmental restoration efforts in and around local streams and rivers, all part of a massive watershed that flows directly into the Chesapeake Bay.
A national Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant obtained in 2016 first brought the Chesapeake Conservancy and Susquehanna University together with a core mission focused on watershed restoration.
“We have students who want to learn about it and they (Chesapeake Conservancy) want professionals to do the work,” said Matt Wilson, director of Susquehanna’s institute. More than 30 students have worked as paid interns under the supervision of the conservancy in recent years, and three graduates are now employed as watershed specialists.
Their work is vital to the future health of not only local waterways but also the entire Chesapeake Bay, a 200-mile-long estuary that extends from Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Norfolk, Virginia.
More than 50 major rivers and streams, including the Susquehanna River, flow from a 64,000-square-mile watershed, directly into the Chesapeake Bay every day, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an organization that focuses on the environmental health of the bay.
The watershed starts in northern New York state and includes portions of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Susquehanna River watershed alone encompasses 27,100 square miles, with water flowing through forests, farms, wildlife habitats, cities, towns and villages before reaching the bay and eventually mixing with ocean water.
“We can save the bay only if we clean up our local creeks, streams and rivers,” the Chesapeake Bay Foundation writes. “18 million people live, work and play in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and each one directly affects the bay.”
The Susquehanna University students and professionals are eager to do what they can to help.
“I truly believe that the Conservancy’s partnership with the FRI’s staff and students has helped launch a new chapter in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts,” said Carly Dean, director of the Conservancy’s Chesapeake Tributaries Initiative.”
Lizzy Reitzloff, a 2022 Susquehanna University graduate who is among the students who gained experience while doing undergraduate work and now are employed in the conservation field, told us that the ongoing, renewed agreement is “a really big deal.”
She’s right. It is.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.