DCNR: Butler County Middle School to Become 'Park for a Day' for Winning Earth Day 40 Schools Challenge

Jun 02, 2010, 14:14 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On June 3, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will turn the Haine Middle School in Cranberry Township, Butler County, into a "Park for a Day" to reward students for winning Pennsylvania's Earth Day 40 Schools Challenge.

Haine students will enjoy a number of activities designed to continue their interest in protecting and restoring the environment while having fun outdoors. Activities will relate to botany and native plants, geocaching, leave-no-trace hiking and camping, bats in trouble, forest fire prevention, fishing skills, water conservation, nature walks, recycling, and animal identification.

"It's an important lesson to learn that although problems sometimes seem large, our individual actions can make a difference when it comes to conservation and protecting our environment," Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary John Quigley said. "We hope the students have a fun day, but also take home the message that the environment always needs our help and we can continue to make a daily difference."

Haine Middle School was chosen as the Earth Day 40 Schools Challenge grand prize winner for its unique project to provide residents with rain barrels to conserve water and improve its quality.

The school's "Rainkeepers" first researched what would help conserve water in their community and raised funds to purchase rain barrels. The students then conducted an instructional class on March 23 in partnership with Lorin Meeder, the environmental program director for Cranberry Township. Thirty rain barrels were given to township residents who attended the class. Teacher Allison Stebbins guided the students through research, outreach and fundraising to make the project a success.

A rain barrel system attaches to a gutter to catch rain water from the roof, preventing runoff. The water can then be used for watering a garden or washing a car.

In addition to the park for a day, the school's prize also includes a $1,000 gift certificate to WARDS Scientific provided by Waste Management; 10 fishing rods with tackle provided by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission; a framed wildlife print provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission; Illuminating Education program materials, including a classroom supply of compact fluorescent light bulbs provided by the Department of Environmental Protection; and a plaque and a native tree for planting at the school provided by DCNR.

Each project in the Earth Day 40 Schools Challenge was required to be related to one of five themes: Super sustainable foods; Big on biodiversity; Transportation that treads lightly; Reduce that carbon footprint; and Wild about water.

The Earth Day 40 celebration is a cooperative effort of DCNR and the departments of Agriculture, Education, Environmental Protection, and Transportation, as well as the Fish and Boat and Game commissions. Outside partners include the Philadelphia Zoo, Waste Management and World Environment Day 2010, which Pittsburgh is hosting.

For more information about Earth Day 40, visit www.iconservepa.org and choose "Take the Challenge," or call 717-772-9101.

Media contact: Christina Novak, 717-772-9101

Editor's NoteMedia coverage is invited for the following activities:

1:15 – 2 p.m. -- Students will be circulating through activity centers

2 – 2:15 p.m. -- All students will participate in an environmental rally

2:15 – 2:45 p.m. -- Remarks and students will participate in a tree planting

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources