Karl Nolte, the plant manager at Air Products Hometown, welcomed several representatives of local conservation and environmental education groups to the plant for their annual check presentation in conjunction with Earth Day. The Little Schuylkill Conservation Club, the Schuylkill Conservation District, and the Carbon County Environmental Education Center all benefit from continued support from Air Products.
The Little Schuylkill Conservation Club actually helps to maintain fish nursery facilities that are located on the Air Products wildlife refuge area adjacent to the Hometown facility. Eugene Dougherty, the president of the organization, said that the funds will continue a project that was started two years ago to rebuild the nursery. The project includes removing dead trees that were contributing to algae growth and preventing the nursery area from being productive, as well as building new runs. Now that the old trees have been removed, Dougherty said that the group will need to plant new shade trees that will provide adequate protection to the area. The group will be working with the Pennsylvania Fish Commission to determine the next steps of the project. The 130 members of the Little Schuylkill Conservation Club maintains several other nursery facilities and hope to be able to provide fish for many of the local waterways that are popular fishing spots.
Susan Gallagher, the chief naturalist at the Carbon County Environmental Education Center, said that the annual contribution from Air Products enables the organization to continue to provide no or low cost programming to all ages. "For us, every day is Earth Day," said Gallagher, "and this really helps us keep our costs low." The organization offers ongoing educational programs to school age children, as well as supporting environmental research and a wildlife rehabilitation hospital. Gallagher highlighted the upcoming "Enviro-thon" competition and the summer day camp that will be held at the facility in late June. The CCEEC has also been a frequent presenter at Air Products' annual community day event, which is usually held in June. Their exhibit, which features several birds of prey and some of the local amphibians and reptiles, is always popular with attendees.
The Schuylkill Conservation District also holds many educational and recreational activities for people of all ages throughout Schuylkill County. Glenn Luckenbill accepted the donation on behalf of the organization, filling in for the typical face of the SCD, Porcupine Pat. Porcupine Pat's primary objective is to educate all ages about the environment. "In this way, this donation has many long lasting, far reaching benefits," said Luckenbill. One of the SCD's largest events, the Bear Creek Festival, will be held later in May at the Schuylkill County Fairgrounds. "Several thousand people attend this free event," said Luckenbill. Additionally, the SCD will be offering many workshops and day camps throughout the summer.
"Earth Day gives us the opportunity to recognize these groups. They do great work, and it's a great way to show our support for the community," said Nolte. The Hometown facility will also be sponsoring an electronic recycling event for employees in conjunction with Earth Day.