College to participate in annual Earth Day event

By Molly Kearney
April 16, 2009

Cabrini will participate in its second annual Crabby Creek Earth Day event on Saturday, April 18. This event has previously been run by Dr. David Dunbar, associate biology professor, and Dr. Melissa Terlecki, assistant psychology professor. This year, they are joined by Dr. Caroline Nielsen, assistant biology professor, and Dr. Janice Xu, assistant communication professor.

Dunbar was the first to become involved with Crabby Creek, after receiving a grant for stream restoration work. He wanted to set up a way for Cabrini to assist non-profit groups with stream restoration.

Dunbar soon began helping the Valley Creek Restoration Partnership. The partnership works to restore the Valley Creek Watershed, which is a part of Crabby Creek. Storm-water runoff from surrounding housing developments has caused further pollution of Crabby Creek. Dunbar has worked with his students and allowed them to research stream insect life to see if the restoration work allows Crabby Creek to deal with storm water.

Also, whether the restoration work improves the health of the stream. Crabby Creek, however, is not just a place for water runoff. Brook trout, the Pennsylvania state fish and the only trout native to Pennsylvania, used to inhabit Crabby Creek up until about a decade ago. Another goal of the partnership is to bring back the brook trout to the upper stretches of Crabby Creek.

That is where Terlecki came in. She developed a survey that was sent out to Crabby Creek community members to get a better understanding of environmental attitudes and whether they knew about the Crabby Creek restoration.

Terlecki’s survey results showed most community members did not know Crabby Creek was undergoing restoration but that they would like to learn more and would volunteer their time in order to help.

Upon this realization, the partnership decided they could indeed allow the community to work with them as a team, hence Crabby Creek Earth Day.

The goal is “to educate community members on the best storm water management practices as well as assistance with how they can make their homes and yards more conducive to the best storm water management practices,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar and Terlecki co-teach an environmental psychology course and their students participate in this as well as the research on the stream as mentioned previously.

“Environmental problems, like many problems that inflict us, are best solved through an interdisciplinary lens where faculty and students from many different disciplines come together and work on a problem,” Dunbar said.

That is where the two new members to Crabby Creek Earth Day, Neilsen and Xu, have become involved. With their various areas of expertise, Dunbar is excited to see how the program will continue to improve.

Dunbar encourages members of the Cabrini community to come out and get involved.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for Cabrini students in that they get to be involved in a very worthwhile community service project and get to see first hand their professors, a partnership and a community working together for the common good,” Dunbar said.

Molly Kearney

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