Power of partnerships: Your support critical heading into a busy slate of summertime activities and initiatives
Two years ago in mid-May, my anxiety spiked to new levels.
We were just a month away from the first of our initial six HERYN (Helping Engage our River’s Youth with Nature) kayaking and fishing day programs. A grant from the PA Fish and Boat Commission allowed me to turn a personal dream idea into reality, and that was exciting, but there was still so much to pull together.
We needed life jackets, fishing tackle, lunches, bait and other things that weren’t part of the grant funding or would be important matches for the grant. We had nearly 70 kids signed up already for a program that had never happened. So many were depending on this program being a success, blindly believing that we could provide what we promised when first advertising the program.
I walked into Blue Heron Sports Shop in Milton to talk with Matt Pierce, someone I have known for quite a while, about the program and our needs. I hated asking for donations – I still do. People all are struggling in their own way – especially back then as the pandemic still had a stranglehold on pretty much everything.
Matt quickly calmed my nerves. He loved the concept of the program, immediately bought into the vision and saw the importance of strengthening connections between young people and our environmental resources. He offered a variety of donations that knocked several “need” items off our list.
Soon after, Halls Marine out of Muncy stepped in and donated a large assortment of life jackets of various sizes. Clarks Wiggly Worms out of Penns Creek in Snyder County donated hundreds of worms for bait. Local restaurants, such as Domino’s Pizza out of Milton, donated lunches for participants and our team of instructors and helpers.
The whole “it takes a village” concept really hit home for me as we proceeded to hold our first six HERYN days, which were a wild success and we will soon kick off the third annual slate of program days.
That same type of support from local businesses, groups and even individuals continues to allow us to hold a wide variety of important environmental education programming each summer. Our Floating Classrooms aboard the Hiawatha Paddleboat. Our Waterway Exploration Training (WET) program where kids and families explore streams and learn about the importance of macroinvertebrates. This year, we have added our Environmental Education Leadership for Students (EELS) program and are planning a Scout River Ecology Day in August. We will be doing a special Riverwalk program for various groups.
There is little I can write here to fully express my gratitude to the businesses and others who support this work. We have developed a Community Partners program as a way to showcase some of these vital supporters and encourage everyone to, in turn, support their business and efforts to improve our greater watershed. Please check out the list at our Community Partners page: www.middlesusquehannariverkeeper.org/partners.html
Heading into this summer, we could use some help toward a few “holes” yet to be filled. This includes:
Beyond our environmental education programming, Community Partners can donate toward our efforts to engage polluters, toward water testing and other initiatives (such as our BirdNet monitoring project) and to help us in other ways to better project waterways across an 11,000 square-mile watershed from a potential cocktail of harmful contaminants.
We ask you to consider joining our efforts by partnering with us as we strive to improve and preserve the health and vibrancy of the Susquehanna River, its tributaries and the aquatic ecosystem it all supports.
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.