Today, EPCAMR welcomed two Seniors from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA, to begin working as Watershed Outreach Interns; Jessica Johnson, Scranton, PA, and Amanda Hamstra, West Pittston, PA.
Jessica Johnson is majoring in Environmental Studies with minors in Biology and Geography. She will be receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in May of 2015. She was born and raised in the Wyoming Valley and has lived in Nanticoke her entire life until recently moving to Scranton. Moving from a small city to a slightly larger city has been a bit of a culture shock. She’s still adjusting to the faster-paced lifestyle, as well as the larger population. All of her life she knew that she wanted to do something special that would help change the path that this planet has taken due the hands of mankind.
She remembered back in high school at Greater Nanticoke Area, saying, “I always wanted to work for a non-profit environmental organization in the area that is dedicated and passionate about their cause. Working with EPCAMR has fulfilled that dream for me. With this internship, I hope to gain a better understanding of the conditions of the land in my hometown and the surrounding areas and what is being done to improve it. I am looking forward to gaining hands-on experience in the field that will allow me to get out in the community and contribute to protecting and restoring the environmental landscapes that have been mining-impacted in our region. I am especially interested in seeing, first hand, the effects coal mining has had on Northeastern PA and getting to visit abandoned mine lands, rivers, and streams that have been impaired by abandoned mine drainage to get an up and close physical understanding of what past mining has done to our rivers, streams, and land.”
When not in classes, Jessica enjoys being outdoors any chance she can get. Her favorite Spring/Summer activity is exploring 7 Tubs Nature Area, which has just recently become a part of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, Lackawanna State Parks Complex, after having been under the ownership of Luzerne County for years, with little improvements to the land. Two years ago, EPCAMR led a group of volunteers to clean up the Nature Area. Jessica likes to get lost deep in the woods and try to find her way out using what she’s learned in her Botany and Geography courses.
During her 2013 Fall semester, her class took a week-long trip to the Chesapeake Bay, hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It was a great experience where she learned about some of the damaging effects the Susquehanna River has on the Bay and that our mining-impacted areas do play a role in some of the pollution downstream.
“It made me realize what an impact our area had on others around it, even as far away as Maryland and Virginia. This is even more of a reason for us to do our best to improve the communities in which we live and what we have, to make a better future for generations to come,” she proudly emphasized.
Amanda Hamstra currently lives in West Pittston, PA. She is a Senior at King’s College with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Professional Writing. She will be graduating in May of 2015. She enjoys writing, reading, and any outdoor activities, especially camping. She hopes to obtain a career where she can be outdoors to help preserve forests and wildlife and teach others the importance of nature. She also hopes to publish novels and scientific articles one day.
She heard about EPCAMR through King’s Career Planning Office. We’ve sponsored many interns from King’s College over the years. Amanda learned about abandoned mine drainage through courses she had taken and it sounded interesting to her, so she decided to contact Mr. Hughes to set up an interview. Amanda and Jessica were in many of the same classes and both went on the Chesapeake Bay outdoor field experience in the Fall of 2013.
Amanda goes on to say, “I expect to broaden my knowledge about AMD, water pollution, mine land reclamation, and environmental education and to learn how EPCAMR is making a true difference on the negative impacts to the environment with positive solutions. The field work should give me a better understanding about the impacts of AMD and help me network to learn more about the efforts of EPCAMR and other environmental organizations in NEPA.”
Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, goes on to say, “Jessica and Amanda will have a very busy semester this coming Spring before they graduate in May. They are joining EPCAMR when we will be in full swing with a variety of projects. As all interns have done before them, they will have the opportunity to dive right in and get their hands dirty in AMD and immerse themselves in as much of the workload to gain the most experience out of the internship. I stressed to them on the first day the importance of paying attention to details, learning the acronyms that are constantly affiliated with the community groups, government agencies, and authorities we work with, picking up on skill sets, learning how to write technical documents, and learning how EPCAMR Staff develops budgets and partnerships to put together our restoration and remediation projects throughout the region. It’s my hope that they take the initiative to truly understand just how much effort a group like EPCAMR has to go through to get a project successfully on the ground and funded and what it takes to develop those relationships with people from our coalfield communities throughout Northeastern and North Central PA in the name of clean water and for the protection, preservation, and reclamation of our land and water, impacted by past mining practices.”