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Spotlight - Nature Abounds Launches Ice Watch In PA, Gathering Senior Environment Corps Members
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Nature Abounds, a national non-profit organization led by Pennsylvania native Melinda Hughes-Wert, has chosen Western Pennsylvania for its national headquarters and future training center. Two of its first projects are to implement the volunteer-based IceWatch USA in the state and to pull together volunteers from the Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps involved in water quality monitoring and other projects.
 
The mission of Nature Abounds is to educate and empower citizens across the country to sustain their community through environmental stewardship such as watershed protection, conservation of native flora and fauna, and overall “going green”.
 
According to President Melinda Hughes-Wert, there are several reasons why Pennsylvania was chosen for the organization’s headquarters. “First, there’s an abundance of wildlife in Pennsylvania including at least 267 species of birds, 68 species of mammals, 163 species of fish, 37 species of reptiles and 36 species of amphibians. Second, in regards to water resources, much of Northwestern Pennsylvania is affected by the Great Lakes system, while water drainage is divided with some water ultimately draining to the Mississippi River, while the remaining water drains to the Chesapeake Bay. The actions taken in Pennsylvania are impacted by what happens elsewhere, and what happens in Pennsylvania impacts a lot of what happens in a good portion of other area across the country.”
 
Nature Abounds launched their first program IceWatch USA in early November, The program, modeled after the Canadian Government’s IceWatch Canada, engages volunteers across the United States in collecting information about ice coverage on waterways, snow and rain amounts, air temperature and wildlife observations over the winter.
 
For more information about volunteering, go to the IceWatch USA webpage.
Additionally, a major goal of Nature Abounds is the building of the Nature Force network, a network of volunteer groups that can work independently while also making a greater impact by joining forces with other volunteer groups that have the same or similar missions.
 
The Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps* is one such group that Nature Abounds hopes to bring into the Nature Force network, allowing the groups to interact with other Senior Environment Corps groups across the commonwealth and from across the country. By working together, opportunities are significantly expanded, including program impact, funding opportunities, and most importantly, having added manpower for a stronger voice on the issues that matter to them, such as the environment.
In the short-term, Nature Abounds plans to open a business office in the Clearfield area this spring as well as launch the “Going Green Corps” program, training local citizens to work with homeowners and business owners as well as school officials and government officials in the community on how to “save money while also saving the planet.”
 
Other future plans include opening a Nature Center with a community garden along the I-80 corridor, probably located somewhere between Clearfield and Clarion.
 
Nature Abounds President Melinda Hughes-Wert added, “Native Pennsylvanians, including me and my family, grew up with trees and wildlife, while our relatives worked on the railroad or in the coal mines. We understand the importance of natural resources while we also understanding the need for a healthy environment. Folks here have ‘Home Town Pride”, and we hope to work with them to make Pennsylvania a role model for environmental responsibility.”
 
For more information, visit the Nature Abounds website, send email to: info@natureabounds.org, call 814-765-1453 or send mail to: PO Box 241, Clearfield, Pa 16830.

*Editor's Note: State Funding for the PA Senior Environment Corps was eliminated in July 2007 by the departments of Environmental Protection and Aging and not restored. Ironically, the PaSEC celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2007 to wide acclaim.

1/9/2009

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