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Volunteer Story

Bay Club at Penn State University

At Penn State, members of The Chesapeake Bay Club want to participate in local stream cleanups, small stream restoration projects, and more.

Photo Credit: The Chesapeake Bay Club

Graduates of CBF’s high school Student Leadership Program, who learned how to take active roles in clean water efforts in Pennsylvania, have carried their passion to college, creating The Chesapeake Bay Club at Penn State University’s main campus.

“We wanted to create a club that got students outside and also gave them some professional development experience as well as exposure to different careers in the outdoor field,” says Penn State Junior Anne Puchalsky. She is a Cumberland Valley High School grad with a Wildlife and Fisheries Science major and a Forest Ecosystem Management minor.

The club’s first activity was planting 100 trees at Tri-Municipal Park in Centre Hall, about 10 miles east of the university on April 24 of last year as part of the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership.

The club was founded in 2020 during Puchalsky’s freshman year at the university. She is President and co-founder with fellow CBF Student Leadership Council (SLC) alumni Emily Stambaugh, Isaac Nulton, and Anna Pauletta.

“We wanted to get students outside into their watershed and focus on issues with water quality at the local level,” Puchalsky said.

The club has a list of over 25 members.

“I am hopeful that since in-person activities have resumed, the club has a chance of success at Penn State,” Puchalsky said. “It is much easier to gain student interest in an outdoor-related club when you are allowed to be together. We have engaged members and only hope to grow as new kids enter Penn State each semester.”

The club at Penn State is considered an official affiliate of the CBF Student Leadership Program. “Through this affiliation, the PSU Chesapeake Bay Club will be able to schedule annual environmental education field experiences with CBF and have the opportunity to build connections to regional watershed conservation partners to support restoration efforts,” said Kassie Fenn, CBF’s Student Leadership and Education Manager in Pennsylvania. “The Penn State students will also be supported by CBF Student Leadership when advocating for clean water, either at the state or federal level.”

While collegians Puchalsky and Pauletta, a senior, were planting trees at Centre Hall last April, so was current CBF student leader and their former teammate Lauren Braught was conducting a tree planting 80 miles to the south.

The day also happened to be the third anniversary of the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, coordinated by CBF.

At Penn State, members of the new club would also like to participate in stream cleanups, small stream restoration projects, and volunteer and help with trail maintenance at parks around State College.

“We want to do similar kinds of things that the student leadership program did for us. Engaging other students and educating them about the Bay,” President Puchalsky added. “Providing a space for students to grow their communications skills as well. And have a professional advancement for students. Empowering students that have similar interests to work together to make changes.”

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