Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Westminster College Student Symposium On The Environment A Success, Attracts 73 College, High School Students

On December 6th, the annual Westminster College Student Symposium on the Environment was held, marking the 11th straight year the college has hosted the event in Lawrence County.
The purpose of the student symposium is to provide a venue for students to showcase their environment-related research, projects, internships, and artwork in a positive and friendly atmosphere.
The student symposium arose from the annual Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition Symposium which began in 1996 where students (mostly from Slippery Rock University and Grove City College) and professionals were able to interact and present their research on to the watershed restoration activities of the SRWC.
After several years, students were given their very own event and the symposium was expanded to include any environmental related topic.
After Dr. Helen Boylan and Westminster College began taking on the hosting and organizing responsibilities of the symposium, it has grown to become a regional event.
This year’s symposium attracted approximately 73 students from eight colleges and universities including Chatham University, Clarion University, Duquesne University, Geneva College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock University, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and Westminster College.
There were also several high school students from Central Valley High School and Greenville Senior High School.
There were 26 posters and 7 oral presentations that ranged from ecological studies to microplastics to climate change; and of course what SRWC symposium would be complete without AMD and passive treatment projects?!
The quality of the work is always impressive and the judges have a daunting challenge of visiting and evaluating all of those posters! The following awards and honorable mentions were earned:
Environmental Research Poster:
-- Hailey Tammaro won for “Influence of weather variables on timing of breeding in American kestrels.”
-- Rachel Dressler, Melanie Opyrchal, and Hannah McElrath received honorable mention for “Allelopathic effects of hay scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) on pin oak germination and growth.”
Environmental Project Poster:
-- Katarina Lewis won for “Stress and exposure to imidacloprid- a neonicotinoid pesticide, affect host selection in Nasonia vitripennis.”
-- Lauren McNany and Courtney Kinkead received honorable mention for “Dewater Efficiency at the New Wilmington Wastewater Treatment Plant”
High School Presentation:
-- Brian Ross and Trey Wilt won for “Acorn Parasite Preference.”
-- The Environmental Science AP Class from Central Valley High School in Beaver County received honorable mention for “A systems Approach to Implementing a Water-Bottle Recycling Program through Education, Regulation, and Enforcement.”
Oral Presentation:
-- Tia Kowalo, Andrew Kearney, Justin Anuszek, and Matthew Balczon for “Investigating microplastics in macroinvertebrates collected from the Little Neshannock Creek, using clean air processing techniques.”
-- Elizabeth Cochran received honorable mention for “Effects of constructed wetlands on heavy metal removal in abandoned mine drainage remediation.”
Congratulations to all the students for a job well done! It has been another successful symposium and we look forward to next year’s event, which will take place at Westminster College on December 5th, 2019, so save the date!
We would like to see even greater participation from more schools!
Click Here for photos of all 2018 winners.  Click Here to search for abstracts presented at the Symposium.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition website.
(Photo: Students from the Environmental Science Advanced Placement Class from Central Valley High School in Beaver County discussed their efforts to reduce single-use plastic bottles by encouraging students to buy refillable water bottles. Sales of the water bottles will be used to purchase water filling stations. They also instituted a recycling program to get students to recycle bottles instead of throwing them in the garbage.)

(Reprinted from the January issue of The Catalyst newsletter form the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

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