Schuylkill Acts and Impacts- 2014    

Mon Feb 10, 2014

What is Schuylkill Acts & Impacts?

Schuylkill Acts & Impactsis a weeklong service-learning program that will be offered to a team of ten high school students from communities within the Schuylkill River Watershed.

This expedition will involve a physical journey (by boat and van) along the 120-mile Schuylkill River from its headwaters in the anthracite coal lands of Schuylkill County to its confluence with the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Team leaders from Outward Bound Philadelphia and the Schuylkill Headwaters Association will guide students downriver, illustrating an array of issues impacting water quality in the Schuylkill River through guided tours, programming, and applied service work designed to highlight issues in the watershed and offer hands-on solutions to these problems.

Target issues will include: 1) the legacy of coal mining on water quality; 2) agricultural impacts including erosion and manure management; 3) the role of land preservation in watershed health; and, 4) the impacts of stormwater and impervious services on water resources. For example, students will paddle stretches of the river with biologists and conduct basic water quality monitoring, tour abandoned and active coal mines, visit farms to examine stream bank erosion, and walk the streets of Philadelphia to witness pioneering work at mitigating stormwater.Daily reflection and discussion will challenge participants to think about their own habits and use of water and provide them with tools to take action in their own stretch of the watershed.

When is the expedition?

Schuylkill Acts & Impactswill take place from Saturday, June 7 to Saturday, June 14, 2014. A mandatory orientation and team-building day for all participants will be hosted at French Creek State Park on Saturday, May 3, 2014. The orientation will serve two purposes: 1) to allow students to meet each other prior to the expedition and begins to form relationships through team-building exercises and, 2) to allow for initial discussion of environmental impacts in the Schuylkill River Watershed so that participants have a basic understanding before the program begins. Please plan vacation accordingly. Attendance at all events is required for participants.

Can I apply for Schuylkill Acts & Impacts?

Schuylkill Acts & Impacts will be a group of 10 high school students (9th-12th grades) from the five counties located within the Schuylkill Watershed (Schuylkill, Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia) selected through a competitive application process. Applicants must currently be enrolled in high school at the time they submit their application, however graduating seniors will be considered.

Where will the team stay?

The Schuylkill Acts & Impacts expedition will travel throughout the Schuylkill River Watershed, participating in daylong projects with local environmental organizations. For eight days and seven nights, participants will sleep under the stars and learn in a classroom with no walls. Each night participants will camp or stay in basic accommodations at various parks and preserves. All necessary gear will be provided by Outward Bound Philadelphia.

Can I still apply if I don’t have any experience in the outdoors?

Absolutely! One of the most important components of this program is its focus on environmental education and outdoor recreation.  If an applicant is interested in nature and the outdoors, but does not have any prior camping experience, this program offers the perfect opportunity to learn. Outward Bound leaders are professional outdoor instructors and will teach participants everything from paddling a canoe to setting up a tent.

Will this program impact my future?

Schuylkill Acts & Impactsprovides each student participant with a binder of internship opportunities, volunteer-based organizations, and conservation leadership materials within the Schuylkill River Watershed that will offer additional opportunities to gain professional experience through internships and continue environmental service work during summer or in college. Many organizations listed will be offering presentations and tours, providing students with the chance to network. Additionally, the Schuylkill Acts & Impacts program is a great way to learn leadership skills, build a resume for college, and acquire community service hours.

How much does the expedition cost?

There is no cost to apply for or participate in the Schuylkill Acts & Impacts program. All participants will be given full scholarships made possible by various sponsoring organizations in the Schuylkill Watershed as well as regional and national grants.

What organizations are involved in Schuylkill Acts & Impacts?

The Schuylkill Headwaters Association (SHA) is leading the 2014 pilot of the Schuylkill Acts & Impacts expedition. SHA is a small nonprofit organization founded in 1998, whose mission is “to promote the environmental integrity of the Schuylkill River, its tributaries, and the watershed that lies within the boundaries of Schuylkill County.” Schuylkill Acts & Impacts steps beyond SHA’s work in the headwaters to engage our partners in the wider watershed and provide student exposure to issues impacting the health of the Schuylkill River and develop emerging environmental leaders. The National Audubon Society’s Toyota TogetherGreen program has made the 2014 program possible. We are also thrilled to be collaborating with over 20 partners and sponsoring organizations within the Schuylkill Watershed to execute and sustain Schuylkill Acts & Impacts. These organizations are leaders on their respective watershed issues and have contributed greatly to the development of the Schuylkill Acts & Impacts’ curriculum. Please see the full list of sponsors and partners at the end of this application.

Who will be leading the expedition?

Schuylkill Acts & Impactsteam leaders will be a combination of professional outdoor education instructors from Outward Bound and Schuylkill Headwaters Association Outreach & Education personnel who have undergone rigorous background checks and have extensive experience in group facilitation and leadership development programs. The maximum instructor-to-student ratio will be 1:3. The Philadelphia Outward Bound School has been serving students in Philadelphia public, charter, independent and parochial schools for 20 years. For more information on Outward Bound’s programs, see:

How to apply:

To Apply: Click here to download the application packet



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