Students Initiate Changes and Funding to Protect Local Stream and Save Their Outdoor Playground

WHO: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, EQT Foundation and Joe Walker Elementary School in the McGuffey School District

WHAT: Students in Laurie Maglietta’s fifth-grade class noticed a problem: The school’s recreation areas, including a playground and walking trail, were shrinking. After realizing the culprit was the eroding streambanks which abut the playground along Chartiers Creek, the school turned to the Conservancy for help. Scientists from the Conservancy’s watershed conservation program, Mark Killar and Greg Schaetzle, worked with 38 students and their teacher to devise a plan to stabilize the streambank and plant native shrubs and trees.

Thanks to the generosity of EQT Foundation, a $55,000 grant was awarded to WPC to repair the failing streambanks at the school.

At this event, WPC’s scientists will display illustrations of the streambank to highlight the locations of the stabilization work and explain how the soon-to-be-installed plant materials will help control the stream current and prevent further erosion. Students will be creekside to plan, sketch and decide the locations of where the new trees and shrubs, and other habitat, will be installed this fall. Students are currently growing the shrubs and trees in the school’s on-campus greenhouse.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at 1 p.m. This outdoor classroom session is weather dependent and will last approximately one hour.

WHERE: Joe Walker Elementary School located at 2510 Park Avenue in Washington, PA 15301

WHY: This effort to save the school’s outdoor areas, will also ultimately improve the water quality of Chartiers Creek by reducing sediments entering the stream. The plan also included a student led letter-writing campaign to garner support from school leadership, elected officials and community groups to highlight the severity of the erosion problem at their school. Led by the Conservancy’s involvement, this activity has fostered learning opportunities as part of the teacher’s environmental, social science and STEM curriculums.

Interviews with students, Ms. Maglietta, funders and WPC scientists will be offered.


About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy enhances the region by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish 10 state parks, conserved more than a quarter million acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams. The Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater, which symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 132 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of about 12,000 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members. For more information, visit or


Kristen Wishon
Communications Specialist
412-586-2328 (w)
304-741-5773 (c)