Staying connected with outdoor agencies across the state, it’s interesting to see what type of projects are happening. This week’s announcements are for everything from underwear to art projects and free sunscreen.
Yes, you read that right. I share some information on what to do with a pair of your old underwear.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation reports that it has joined the Pennsylvania Soil Health Coalition, underwear brand “The Big Favorite” and other organizations to launch a “brief” campaign urging everyone to educate themselves about the health of their soil and germs from their neighborhood, by planting underwear.
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The partnership invites anyone with a field (row crop or pasture), garden or lawn to plant a pair of 100% cotton underwear. Once the clothes are planted, the CBF reports that the soil microbes will feast for 60 days. Then, participants will be asked to dig up their underwear and report their findings to organizations, and document them on social media. Depending on the level of decomposition, challenge partners will share tips on how to improve soil quality. Ultimately, the more the underwear decomposes, the healthier the soils.
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“The ‘Soil Your Undies’ campaign is a fun way for people to see if their soil has a healthy population of microbes that do an amazing job,” said Kelly O’Neill, agricultural policy analyst with CBF Pennsylvania, in the ad. “In addition to breaking down tissue, some microbes work to recycle dead plant material into nutrients that plants can use, to reduce crop fertilizer needs. Others form webs between plant roots, to maintain the soil and nutrients in place, keeping them where they are needed and preventing nutrients and soil from polluting local waterways.
For more information on the “Soil Your Undies” campaign, visit www.pasoilhealth.org/soilyourundies.
Sunscreen in State Parks
If you’re visiting a state park and forgot your sunscreen, chances are someone else has you covered.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is offering free sunscreen to visitors to 33 state park beaches and pools across Pennsylvania.
Pole-mounted, battery-powered dispensers, providing over 30 applications of BrightGuard SPF sunscreen, are positioned at 33 of 121 state parks including: Bald Eagle, Beltzville, Black Moshannon, Blue Knob, Caledonia, Canoe Creek , Chapman, Codorus, Cowans Gap, Frances Slocum, French Creek, Greenwood Furnace, Gifford Pinchot, Hills Creek, Keystone, Lackawanna, Laurel Hill, Little Buffalo, Marsh Creek, Moraine, Mt. Pisgah, Neshaminy, Nockamixon, Ohiopyle, Pine Grove Furnace, Poe Valley, Près Isle, Raccoon Creek, Ricketts Glen, Shawnee, Shikellamy, Tobyhanna and Tuscarora.
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DCNR’s sunscreen program began in 2017 when its Office of State Parks began providing free sunscreen at Codorus and Pine Grove Furnace State Parks. The DCNR estimates that the program now has the potential to reach around 1.5 million visitors this season.
A Department of Health cancer prevention fund covers the cost of sunscreen. The DCNR reports that it is seeking partnership opportunities with local health organizations and health system providers to cover future costs and further expand the program.
Work in the parks
Three state parks will display artwork this summer.
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced a new diversity, equity and inclusion partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts that connects students with local artists to create and exhibit artwork. art in three state parks.
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The program takes place at the following locations:
- Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center in Northampton County worked with ArtsQuest and Donegan Elementary School to bring in textile artist Mallory Zondag, who guided the students in creating a fiber living wall.
- Bald Eagle State Park in Center County worked with Galaxy/Intermediate Unit 10 and Sugar Valley Rural Charter School to partner with artist Lynn Anne Verbeck, who facilitated the creation of murals and sculptures designed by students.
- Almost Isle State Park in Erie County has partnered with Erie Arts & Culture and folk artist Gyan Ghising, who led Edison Elementary School students through a storytelling and folklore residency .
A fourth program is planned at the Kings Gap Environmental Education Center in Cumberland County for the 2022-23 school year.
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“To reach new people about all the benefits state parks have to offer, this partnership allows us to work with students from schools in underserved communities,” Dunn said in the press release.
Ultimately, state parks are getting more welcoming every year. From having sunscreen available on the beaches to joining in on art projects, the parks are worth several visits each year for every one of us. After cleaning out your underwear drawer for your soil testing project, head to a state park near you.
Brian Whipkey is the outdoor columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at [email protected] and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter via email on your website homepage under your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.