Scrapbook Photo 05/27/24 - 128 New Stories - REAL Environmental & Conservation Leadership In PA:
Celebrating 10 Years Of Volunteer Impact - Greening The Lower Susquehanna

By Kristen Koch, Penn State Agriculture & Environment Center

For 10 years volunteers have been partnering with the Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center, Penn State Extension, and other conservation organizations in Dauphin, Lebanon, and Lancaster Counties through a program called Greening the Lower Susquehanna.

This program provides opportunities for individuals, families, and groups to spend a few hours planting trees, performing maintenance on past tree plantings, cleaning up litter, weeding rain gardens, live staking stream banks, or other practices that help improve the health of local waterways.

Since the start of the program in 2012:

-- 176 events have been held;

-- 4,608 volunteers have attended events contributing over 12,000 hours of time;

-- Over 12 tons of trash have been cleaned up from roadways and public land;

-- Over 8,000 live stakes have been planted in streambanks where they can grow into new trees;

-- 5 rain gardens have been planted;

-- Over 18,000 trees have been planted; and

-- Over 32 acres of already planted trees have been maintained.

Using the 2022 volunteer rate of $29.95 determined by the Independent Sector, the time given by these volunteers is valued at over $350,000.

The value of the work itself is significantly more.

The volunteers have assisted over 30 different partner organizations to implement conservation practices on municipal parklands, homeowner association community space, farms, residential property, commercial/business property, and schoolyards.

Some volunteers come out to a single event or several events in a single season. Other volunteers have become regulars- people who come out to multiple events every season and who have become experts in all the activities.

And in some cases, those volunteers have gone above and beyond by also becoming committed volunteers with other non-profit conservation organizations, getting their workplace involved and volunteering as a group, or implementing a project on their property.

In fact, of the Greening the Lower Susquehanna volunteers that participated in a voluntary survey about the program, 63% of them had made changes on their property because of what they learned coming to events.

Many of these repeat volunteers also try to educate others and bring family members, friends, and mentees to participate.

While providing experiences to volunteers is meaningful in itself, seeing the trees, live stakes, and other vegetation grow over time and make positive environmental change is incredibly rewarding for the Greening the Lower Susquehanna coordinators and the volunteers alike.

By "greening" the Lower Susquehanna region, these projects are reducing erosion of streambanks, providing habitat for wildlife both in and out of the streams, supporting pollinators, reducing stormwater runoff, filtering pollutants, creating shade, and much more.

In the words of one volunteer, "it only takes a little bit of effort to make a huge difference in our watershed."

Upcoming Events

The fall planting season is in full swing. You can sign up to join our next event in Hershey on Saturday, October 22, or can find out about future events by emailing  You can also follow along through social media.

[For more information, visit the Greening the Lower Susquehanna webpage.]

(Reprinted from the Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy (bottom of the page).)

Upcoming Extension Events:

-- October 26: Webinar: Growing Water Wise - Stormwater Challenges

-- October 27: Webinar: Master Watershed Steward Information Session For PA Wilds

-- November 1: Safe Drinking Water Clinic Youngsville, Warren County

-- January 11: Webinars (9 Part Series): Woods In Your Backyard Series

Related Articles - Extension

-- Penn State Master Watershed Steward Volunteers Lead Stream Assessment In Allegheny County  [PaEN]

-- PA Passes Rule Setting Drinking Water Limits For PFOA/PFOS

-- Green Parking Lots: Mitigating Climate Change And The Urban Heat Island

-- Beech Leaf Disease In Pennsylvania


-- PA Council Of Trout Unlimited: Adams County TU Chapter Awarded South Mountain Partnership Grant

-- PennLive Guest Essay: Five Million Trees Planted, Five Million More To Go - Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary Of DCNR

Related Articles This Week:

-- Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership Plants Its 5-Millionth Tree In Franklin County Park; Thousands Of Volunteers Were Critical To Reaching This Milestone  [PaEN]

-- City & State PA Recognize The 2022 Pennsylvania Nonprofit Power 100 Leaders, Including 7 Conservation Leaders  [PaEN]

-- East Lampeter Twp. First Municipality To Partner With Lancaster Revolving Water Fund On Pay-For Performance Contract On Improving Water Quality, Soil Carbon Sequestration  [PaEN]

-- WeConservePA Visits Award-Winning Headwaters Restoration Project By Wissahickon Trails In Montgomery County  [PaEN]

-- Penn State Master Watershed Steward Volunteers Lead Stream Assessment In Allegheny County  [PaEN] 

[Posted: October 20, 2022]


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