Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Feature: My Experience At Goddard Leadership Legacy Student Institute 2016

By Mia Mattingly

This year, I was accepted to attend the Goddard Leadership Legacy Institute run by the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy. I was also selected to receive a scholarship from the Appalachian Audubon Society.
At the institute, I learned all about the environment while also learning about leadership skills. I had an amazing time and I am very thankful for this experience.
Here are some of the highlights from the six-day Institute On the first day, we had a tour of the Ironmaster’s Mansion at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, where we would be staying for part of the week. It was built in 1829, making it 187 years old!
The building was unique and cool to stay in.
To help build our leadership skills, we headed to Diakon Wilderness Center, where we completed various rope courses and team activities. It was very challenging, but since we worked together, we were able to do it.
We went to the LeTort Spring Run Preserve, an old watercress farm overrun with invasive species and poor water conditions. We tested the water and looked for healthy species in the creek.
While the water quality was better than it was last year, it was still unhealthy. This is especially bad because this creek is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. So to help the environment by the LeTort, we got rid of an invasive species named Japanese Stiltgrass.
We tore it up and replaced it with different native species. This will improve the health of the environment, including the creek. When we finished, we headed back to the mansion and went to Fuller Lake to swim and play volleyball.
We also went to Laurel Lake to swim and kayak.
The next morning, we went to a dairy farm and learned how the farm kept water run-off from going into the local creek, the Conodoguinet. We were able to see the cows and the milking system.
From here we went to the Conservation District center and learned more about run-off and how we can help at our own homes. When we finished there, we ventured to the Merrill Environmental Center located in Annapolis, Maryland, where we got a tour of the building and set up camp at the beach.
After we woke up on the beach, we headed to the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration Center, where we helped clean old oyster shells that will be the new home of baby oysters.
On a tour of the center, we saw the process the oysters go through before they are put into the bay. When we finished, we went back to the beach and explored the bay. Since it was our last night, we had seafood and watched a movie in the Merrill Center.
On the last day, we wrapped up and went to downtown Annapolis, then back to the mansion and said our goodbyes to everyone.
I had an incredible time at the Goddard Leadership Legacy Institute and I loved every minute of it. Thank you to the members of the Appalachian Audubon Society for giving me the opportunity to attend this amazing experience.
For more information on the program, visit the Goddard Leadership Legacy Institute webpage.
(Reprinted from the Jan/Feb Kingfisher Courier newsletter published by the Appalachian Audubon Society.)

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