The Saint Francis University Environmental Engineering Department recently launched an Adopt a Site Internship program where students restore and maintain watersheds in Pennsylvania. Rising Junior, Andrew Ferko, was the first student to participate in the experience. Through the Adopt a Site program, Andrew was able to get valuable hands-on experience working with the Shade Creek Watershed Association to maintain an efficient treatment system. The internship was paid for though grant funds from the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds. The Environmental Engineering Department has plans to continue the Adopt a Site Internship program by partnering with other local nonprofit watershed associations and county conservation districts.
Below, Andrew recalls his internship experience.
My internship Experience
By Andrew Ferko
The Adopt-a-Site internship has been one of the most beneficial experiences I have had as an environmental engineering undergraduate student at Saint Francis University. During our Field Measurements course, my class was contracted to improve the performance of the Reitz #1 Passive Treatment System in Central City for the Shade Creek Watershed Association. Fortunately, the system was within close distance of my home. Through the help of Drs. Bill Strosnider and Julie LaBar of Saint Francis University, and funding from the Center for Watershed Research and Service, I am able to assist the Shade Creek Watershed Association in maintaining an efficient treatment system. I also obtained hands-on experience with the instrumentation and critical thinking skills associated with my major.
In the past 7 months, I have performed a variety of different tasks for the system. My work began in class, where we rebuilt limestone barriers, fluffed compost, performed a water quality assessment, and built a wildlife habitat in the bioreactor. Since then, I have performed my own water quality assessments, unclogged pipes, cleaned stop logs, cut grass, constructed miniature educational models of the system, repaired limestone barriers, and a variety of other minor maintenance jobs as directed by the head of the Shade Creek Watershed Association, Larry Hutchinson. My current work centers upon upgrading the discharge pipe so that it is possible to measure the amount of water being discharged from the system.
The Adopt-a-Site internship has proven itself a valuable educational tool in that it gives undergraduate students a chance to work in their field and experience real problems, while still having professors to mentor them along the way. This job has also given me opportunities to meet new people in my field and make contacts that may help me advance throughout my career. Through this work, I have met several members of the Department of Environmental Protection. In conclusion, the Adopt a Site internship has helped me dig deeper into the fundamentals of Environmental Engineering, adapt to working with new people, improved my water quality instrumentation skills, and helped me meet some of the environmental workforce. I would recommend a similar opportunity to any undergraduate student.
Photo Caption: SFU Environmental Engineering students Andrew Ferko IV (left), of Central City, and Ashley Rovder (right), of Richland, doing a goofy dance on the habitat structure they just constructed at the Reitz #1 passive treatment system.