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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

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Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA
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yocom151



Registered: November 2009
City/Town/Province: Millersville
Posts: 1
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Trees are magical. Trees turn carbon dioxide into oxygen for animals to breath, provide shade in the summer and warmth in the winter, they provide food, and have the ability to completely alter ecosystems. By just adding trees into the mixture, a leech ridden stream transforms into stream harboring trout. The ability of trees to improve quality is truly magical and one of the reasons I decided the plant trees.
The other reason is the Chesapeake Bay. I live in Lancaster County, behind my high school, Lancaster Mennonite High School is a stream called the Millstream, which soon meets the Conestoga, which enters the mighty Susquehanna River. At this point the Susquehanna River is over a mile wide and about to deliver forty percent of the Chesapeake Bayís freshwater. After spending over a month traveling on the Susquehanna River, from itís headwaters of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York to the Chesapeake Bay, I learned the vital role the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay have on hundreds of communities. In Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna was a source of recreation, a place people could get away. It provided riverside towns with a source of revenue. And in the Chesapeake Bay, fishermen depended on the water for their livelihood in much the same way that farmers depend on the land. However, as one fishermen of Rock Hall, Maryland pointed out, farmers upriver in Pennsylvania are helping to destroy his way of life. Agriculture is one the main causes of Eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay. Nitrogen and Phosphorus choke out oxygen throughout the bay, causing stress on crab and fish populations. In the infamous ďdead zoneĒ, the Chesapeake Bay is anoxic and completely devoid of life.
Being from Lancaster County, where agriculture is a huge industry, I realized that the dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay was not just the commercial fishermenís problem, it was my problem too. In fact it is everyone in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed problem. The nutrients causing the problem in the Chesapeake Bay do not just come from the surrounding bay towns, but come from the tiniest of streams all across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and New York. One of these streams was right behind my school.
With the conviction that my day to day activities affect the livelihood of a fisherman in Rock Hall, Maryland, I was determined to counteract the negative influence of agriculture by planting trees. With the help of the Chesapeake Bay Foundationís Trees for Streams program, I began by planting 500 trees at my high school. My high school is adjacent to a busy highway and shopping outlets that cut right through land that has been farmed for centuries. The Millstream flows through the farmland, under the highway, and alongside my school before joining with a larger river. All along its course, the millstream continues to pick up more and more pollutants, from manure to car oil. At my school, water runs of the impervious surfaces of the shopping centers and highway, down into a treeless floodplain; here the pollutant laden water cuts across a grassy strip and into the Millstream. With the schoolís permission, I decided to plant my 500 trees in this floodplain, to slow down the water and hopefully prevent the pollutants from entering into the water. It was my job to lay out where the trees would go, organize help planting the trees, and to take care of the trees after they were planted. I got help from my schools FFA chapter for the manual labor of planting the 500 trees.
However, my tree planting didnít stop there. I convinced my FFA advisor to plant trees at his house and organized a group to help him plant over 200 trees alongside a stream. I also helped my father plant over 500 trees alongside the stream which runs through our family farm. I have become quite addicted to planting trees. I try to attend local tree planting throughout Lancaster County. Since my first tree planting at my high school, Iíve helped to plant over 2,000 trees. It is such a simple act that has wonderful consequences. It is also exciting to know that the trees you plant to day, if all goes well, will still be there fifty years from now, towering high into the sky.
Now, I am majoring in Environmental Biology at Millersville University. Whenever, somebody asks me what I want to do with a degree in biology I respond, plant trees. I am not sure you necessarily need a Bachelorís degree to use a shovel, but when I graduate my goal is to continue to help restore, preserve and protect the environment. In particular work towards improving water quality, and of course planting trees.
Date: December 30, 2009 ∑ Views: 4261 ∑ File size: 33.6kb, 2469.5kb: 2048 x 1536 ∑
Hours Volunteered: 100
Volunteers: 30
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 14 to 18
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