Saturday, August 1, 2020

Joint Conservation Committee Newsletter Spotlights Pittsburgh’s Rivers Of Steel National Heritage Area

The city of Pittsburgh is home to Super Bowl champions, World Series champions, renowned healthcare systems, distinguished universities, top tourist destinations and a thriving economy and marketplace for citizens.
The Pittsburgh region has a rich history, serving as once the central hub of the steel industry in the United States, which deemed it appropriate to be called “Steel City.” 
Pittsburgh is also known as the “City of Bridges” because of its 446 bridges scattered throughout the city, 29 of which tower over the Three Rivers -- the Allegheny River, the Monongahela River and the Ohio River.
One particular entity that is dedicated to highlighting the comprehensive history and legacy of the Pittsburgh region is the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. 
The Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area is a nonprofit organization that was created by Congress in 1996 and is tasked with the responsibility of promoting and preserving the southwestern region’s rich industrial history.
Rivers of Steel focuses on three main components: artistry, industry and innovation.
According to Rivers of Steel, their goal is: “Showcasing the artistry and innovation of southwestern Pennsylvania’s industrial and cultural heritage by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.”
The main programs offered by Rivers of Steel to achieve their goal of educating citizens around the world about the region are done so through workshops, exhibitions, tours and festivals. 
These programs allow visitors to gain a detailed understanding about the development of the region and “Steel City” and how it has changed over the course of several decades from the 19th century to the 21st century.
Some of the programs offered by Rivers of Steel include: exploring the Carrie Blast Furnaces; touring the wild gardens at the Carrie Blast Furnaces; and visiting gallery exhibits about the U.S. Steel Homestead Works. 
In 2018, Rivers of Steel launched environmental tours on the Explorer, a 94-foot riverboat built with LEED standards that also serves as primary classroom-learning for educators and students.
A critical commitment and focus of Rivers of Steel is providing educational STEM programs to students that allow them to engage in environmental learning and hone their knowledge and skills in STEM-related areas. 
Because STEM education projects for students is a top priority for Rivers of Steel, they are continually offering students a variety of learning programs.
Three student programs offered by Rivers of Steel aboard the Explorer riverboat include: Bridges of Pittsburgh; Environmental Science on the Three Rivers; and PGH 101: An Intro to Innovation.
The Bridges of Pittsburgh program provides students grades 3-6 with the opportunity to learn more about Pittsburgh’s bridges. During the program, students are able to examine and compare the structural designs and details of different bridges and the engineering that goes behind them. 
Students also gain hands-on experience through building their own model bridges and learning to navigate the rivers via maps. The Bridges of Pittsburgh student program is available from March through December.
The Environmental Science on the Three Rivers program tasks students with examining the health and vitality of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.
During the program, students are responsible for creating their own hypotheses on the quality of the Three Rivers, which are then tested using various water quality indicators.
According to the description provided by Rivers of Steel, students then analyze their results with “industrial and photographic records of the historical land use of Pittsburgh’s river valleys.” The program is open to students grades 4-12 and is available from March until December.
PGH 101: An Intro to Innovation provides students with a sightseeing tour of the Three Rivers aboard the Explorer.
This extensive tour educates students about Pittsburgh’s innovative history that helped to create the city it is today.
Students will learn about the city’s technology, research, landscape and natural resources such as coal, oil and natural gas. They will also gain knowledge about all that Pittsburgh has to offer from environmental, technological and cultural perspectives. 
The PGH 101 program is offered to students grades 7-12 and is running from March through December.
The programs and events offered by Rivers of Steel serve as a significant example of pride in the southwestern region’s long-standing industrial history and abundance of natural resources that have made our economies and communities thrive and grow over the course of many years.
Their efforts to educate youth about the importance of STEM programs and how it intertwines with environmental efforts and initiatives throughout the region is also very commendable.
I am hoping the Committee will be able to go aboard the Explorer someday in the near future in order to learn more about Steel City!
For more information about Rivers of Steel and to learn more about their programs and events, please visit the Rivers Of Steel National Heritage Area website.
[Learn more about the 12 National Heritage Areas in Pennsylvania by visiting DCNR’s Heritage Areas webpage and the the Heritage PA website.]
(Written by Sakura Ung, Committee Project Manager.)
Other Articles
Other articles in the July newsletter include--
-- Microplastics Detected In The Atmosphere
-- Pandemic Costs Clean Energy Sector Jobs
-- Buffering Acidification In The Chesapeake Bay
-- Feds Advised To Incorporate Climate Resilience Into Water/Wastewater Facilities
-- Committee Throwback: Solid Waste Crisis
Click Here to read the entire newsletter.
Rep. Parke Wentling (R-Mercer) serves as Chair of the Joint Conservation Committee.
For more information, visit the Joint Conservation Committee website, call 717-787-7570, Like them on Facebook or Follow them on TwitterClick Here to sign up for regular updates from the Committee.
[Posted: August 1, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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