The Musser Gap Greenway’s First Public Volunteer Event

As an environmental education intern at Shaver’s Creek, I have been able to create my own internship. “Put into it what you want out of it” is the saying I have been leading with this spring semester because the Shaver’s Creek community has a lot to offer.

In December, I returned from a hands-on internship in the Chocó Andino region of Ecuador, where I planted nutrient-heavy plantain trees and other native trees in the area. The owners of the “farm” that I lived on single-handedly (with the help of other volunteers like me) turned rolling farmlands into a lush green forest. I was able to help with this reforestation effort, thus leading to my passion for reforestation in Pennsylvania. During my internship, I learned about pollution runoff and how important it is to keep our local waterways clean to clean the bigger bodies of water. The takeaways from my past two internships inspired me to organize a tree-planting volunteer event at the Musser Gap Greenway, Penn State’s connecting trail between downtown State College and Rothrock State Forest, crossing through farmland, forest, and the riparian buffer at Slab Cabin Run.

One of my goals at the start of the internship was to plant 25 trees myself, but then I realized that it would be resourceful for other people to help me reach my goal. I also recognized the gratitude and satisfaction I felt while planting trees in Ecuador and wanted to grant others the chance to do the same here in Pennsylvania. In order to complete my tree planting goal, I planned and coordinated the first public volunteer event at the Musser Gap Greenway, opening a new door for growth on the property supported by community members. Volunteers will have the gift of watching the trees they planted grow through their lifetime.

When I first proposed the idea of the tree planting event, I wanted to plan it for a date that people would be eager to give back to Earth — so Earth Day, a Monday, was perfect for participation. I was concerned about the turnout of volunteers because of full-time workers, students in classes, and the timing of a 1:00–4:00 p.m. event, but participation ended up being high due to the beautiful sunny weather and the significance of Earth Day. 

For two weeks prior to the event, I was teaching full-time, Monday through Friday, at Shaver’s Creek Outdoor School, a hands-on, environmental education camp for elementary school students. Sleeping and working in a secluded area of the forest — with no cell service and away from my computer — made planning the volunteer event challenging. I had to make sure I was fully prepared two weeks ahead with the packing list, volunteer signup with terms and agreements ready, and other necessary paperwork. Thankfully I was dedicated to this event for months before, so I managed to pull off all of the planning and coordination ahead of time. I am grateful for my experience as volunteer coordinator for the Maple Harvest Festival earlier in the year, which taught me some of the necessary skills I needed to make this event happen in a timely manner. 

The tree-planting volunteer event was very successful — 15 volunteers gathered to plant more than 40 trees. I am grateful for the volunteers, who willingly gave their time on Earth Day, and for the full-time staff who helped me make the volunteer event possible. I have further learned the intricacies of organizing an event with many moving parts, and I look forward to applying my skills to more Earthly events in the future. The Shaver’s Creek internship helped make this project possible. 

One thought on “The Musser Gap Greenway’s First Public Volunteer Event

  1. Lydia,
    You are an inspiration to us all!
    Best wishes finding your related job.

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