Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition Highlights Restored One Room Foltz School House At The Jennings Environmental Education Center; Northwest GIS Conference

latest Catalyst newsletter from the Butler County-based Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition features the reopening of the Foltz School at the Jennings Environmental Education Center and presentations from the Northwest PA GIS Conference

Foltz School

On Saturday October 22nd, a grand opening was held to celebrate the renovation of the Foltz School, a historic one room schoolhouse located at the Jennings Environmental Education Center. 

The Foltz School opened in 1880 and provided education to students from first through eighth grade until its closing in 1963. The school even remained in operation while the Brydon Mine was active right next door. 

After the school closed it slowly began to fall into disrepair for nearly 60 years. Jennings acquired the property in the early 2000’s, but there was no funding available to restore it. Then a few years ago a renewed interest to renovate the school developed. 

The project, which took about 5 years, transformed the empty, decaying building to a beautifully restored schoolhouse as it would have looked about one hundred years ago, including new walls, ceiling, and flooring along with hundreds of artifacts such as restored desks and pot belly stove, books, blackboard, portraits, and even a working bell. 

The project was largely completed by a core group of volunteers including Debbie Sale, Nancy Nalepa, Larry Walker, Richard Bosch, Joyce Davies, Margaret Dunn, Walt Everly, Karen Flanagan, Dave Johnson, and Sky Pfahl who donated over 7,500 hours of time!!!

The grand opening event focused on honoring the dedicated volunteers, contributors, and former alumni who were present. 

Special awards were given to the volunteers that consisted of an etching of the schoolhouse on old slate roof tiles from the school and a stand made from the original flooring. 

After the talks and recognition, the school was ceremoniously opened by ringing of the bell by the volunteers welcoming the alumni to enter the school once again. The alumni then had an opportunity to ring the bell themselves. 

Also on hand were representatives of the Jennings Environmental Education Center who talked about the schoolhouse, the Brydon Mine, and the passive treatment system as well as the Butler County Chapter of the North Country Trail which passes right beside the schoolhouse and treatment system.

The project was funded by a mixture of donations and fundraisers orchestrated by the Moraine State Park, McConnells Mill State Park, Jennings Commission (3MJC) and an Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) grant obtained by the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition and Stream Restoration Incorporated. 

Congratulations to the volunteers and the Jennings Environmental Education Center for such an amazing transformation!

Keep your eyes open for future events and programs at the schoolhouse! 

Northwest GIS Conference

The 16th annual Northwest PA GIS Conference was held October 27 and 28 at Clarion University. 

The purpose of this annual conference is to provide those in the GIS field an opportunity to share ideas and applications for GIS and present some of the best GIS practices currently in use in our communities today. 

Attendees of the conference were able to share their work with other professionals and academics in a pleasant and productive networking environment. 

SRWC participant and GIS professional Shaun Busler was one such conference participant. Shaun enjoyed learning more about how GIS is being used in a variety of important ways. 

Thursday’s opening speaker, Christian Przybylek, spoke about how PEMA (Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency) and Pennsylvania county partners are collaborating to build statewide GIS data sets to support 911 operations.

Other interesting posters and presentations included topics such as using GIS to study hibernaculum locations of eastern box turtles, mapping the impacts of a potential COVID-19 outbreak in Florida, using GIS to enhance planning and awareness of road paving projects, assessing a decade of urban expansion, drone applications, what to expect with a career in GIS, archaeology applications, and more. 

PennWest Clarion students had several interesting inquiry presentations, with topics related to GIS and earthquakes, Africa resources, environmental impacts of the Pearl Harbor attack, volcanic effects on civilization and climate, coal mining and changing communities, environmental effects on bison population, hurricanes, and much more.

A big thank you goes out to the sponsors of the conference: PennWest Clarion, ESRI, Remington & Vernick Engineers, Keystone GIS, and TetraTech

Also thank you to those on the conference planning committee: Michael Aughenbaugh, Forest Service; Dr. Yasser Ayad, Clarion University of PA; Mike Baker, Erie County; Philip Baranyai, Crawford County; Shaun Busler, Stream Restoration, Inc.; Matt Gilara, Venango County; Joseph Livoti II, Township of Hampton; Mark Maguire, Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc.; Eric Oliver, Department of Environmental Protection. 

If you’ve never attended a PA GIS Conference, be sure to consider attending next year’s!

Click Here to read the entire newsletter.

For more information on programs, projects, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition website.  Follow them on FacebookClick Here to sign up to sign up for regular updates.

The Butler County-based Coalition was established in 1994 to restore land, water and wildlife resources in the Slippery Rock Watershed.

[Posted: November 30, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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