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PA Senior Environment Corps Ending Due to Lack of Funding
Members, Capital Area Pa SEC

The Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement this week notified local Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps chapters across the state the program would be ending.

The Senate, House and Rendell Administration failed to agree on earmarking funds within DEP’s budget to carry the program through the 2007-08 fiscal year. In October, Rep. Bud George (D-Clearfield) introduced House Bill 1967 to restore funding.

The PA Senior Environment Corps just celebrated its 10th anniversary this year noting the accomplishments of over 2,900 volunteers across the state who regularly sample water quality at over 628 sites across the state, mentor students on environmental issues and undertake dozens of local environmental projects in 52 counties contributing over 37,400 volunteer hours annually.

The PA Senior Environment Corps Program was recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme on its Global 500 Honour Roll for the program's contribution to protecting the environment, joining the work of individuals like Jacques Cousteau and Jane Goodall. The Corps also received awards from the President's Council on Sustainable Development and Renew America as an outstanding example of community participation

This notice was sent to all the local PA Senior Environment Corps chapters throughout the state—

As you know, the Pennsylvania Senior Environment Corps (PaSEC) established jointly by the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement (EASI) and the Departments of Environmental Protection and Aging, has reached its tenth year of operations.

We are deeply grateful for the contribution you have made to the success and international recognition of PaSEC.

Unfortunately, the current lack of funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania makes continued operation of PaSEC by EASI no longer possible.

With carryover funds from the previous fiscal year we have been able to continue PaSEC but have reached the point where that is no longer possible. Thus, with great sadness, EASI must inform you that as of December 1, Beth Grove’s office of Statewide Coordinator is no longer in operation.

As part of this necessary decision, your program now owns the materials, equipment, and other supplies provided by EASI over the life of the PaSEC program. Your program also owns the data so diligently and competently collected on the quality of the waters in your service area. We are providing separately to your program a CD of your PaSEC’s data and the database platform as it currently exists (and which will be available until the end of December 2007). We very much hope that you and the other volunteers will be able to sustain independently the important environmental and educational work you have maintained over the years.

We have previously sent a CD with the training and field manuals on it. It is EASI’s intention to honor all PaSEC performance invoices through November 30, 2007 if and when funds for the period through November 30 are made available to EASI(we will be identifying those payments to each of you individually). We will also send you a formal letter ending the agreement between EASI and the PaSEC, and expressing specific ongoing approval to use names and logos previously applied (such as PaSEC!). As EASI's Executive Director, Peggy will serve as EASI's principal point of contact for Pennsylvania.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Peggy at 703-241-4927 or .

Peggy, Beth and I met with key officials from the Department of Environmental Protection on Friday, November 30, to formalize the end of EASI's management of PaSEC. As part of that meeting, DEP and EASI agreed that this notification email – which will be followed in short order by letters to site directors and volunteers – should reflect the support and appreciation all of us have for the outstanding water monitoring, environmental education, and many other related activities the PaSEC has undertaken over its past 10 years. Additionally, we all want you to know that DEP wants to continue its support for your very fine work.

To that end, DEP specifically asked that we communicate the following to you on their behalf:

“The PaSEC will now transition from a centralized statewide program to a more individualized, decentralized program. PA DEP greatly appreciates the efforts put forth over the last ten years by the PaSEC volunteers.

Your dedication and hard work has been an inspiration to many across the Commonwealth. The data you collect provides a baseline of information about our water resources that is invaluable. Your inter-generational work truly touches the future in a very positive way.

“PA DEP has a desire to work with individual Senior Environment Corps (SECs) that have an interest in continuing their monitoring efforts and possibly participating in specific projects. PA DEP staff in the Bureau of Watershed Management – Cheryl Snyder and Diane Wilson - will be in contact with each SEC regarding your interest in monitoring partnerships as resources allow.”

All of us associated with EASI including Peggy Knight, Beth Grove, and the entire Board, wish you success in your endeavors and thank you for your inspiration and support to us for so many years. We believe the Senior Environment Corps units across Pennsylvania can continue to make a difference in their communities and hope you will continue your fine work.

Sincerely, William F. Benson, Chairman, EASI Board of Directors

Link: Rep. George Introduces Bill to Save PA Senior Environment Corps

Video Blog Feature: PA Senior Environment Corps in Action!

PA Environment Digest Video Blog

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