’burg and Beyond

In Lewisburg and far afield, Bucknell’s students and staff make a positive and palpable difference.
The Shamokin Creek
William Harrington ’24
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The Shamokin Creek runs bright orange with sulfurous acid mine drainage.
" "Shamokin, Pa.
When the coal mines of Shamokin closed and enterprise moved on, the once-booming town was left with only the shadows of the back-breaking work that built it. The Shamokin Creek, orange and rusty from acid mine drainage, lies as a remnant of the abandoned industry.

But when Johnathan Favini, visiting assistant professor of international relations and environmental studies, took to designing a project for his Environmental Ethnography course, the creek’s potential became his class’ focal point.

What They Learned
Partnering with the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance (SCRA), the class conducted interviews with residents and developed a surprising sense of the relationship between the townspeople and the water.

“Coal mining resulted in extreme environmental devastation,” says Molly O’Neil ’22, an environmental studies and Italian studies double-major. “Its impacts caused high poverty levels and declines in human health and population.”

“I heard hopelessness,” Kayla McElroy ’23, who is majoring in managing for sustainability and environmental studies, says of her conversations. “Government organizations have ignored their needs. With this history of disappointment, we realized how the care and concern of our work could shift patterns of neglect.”

The Impact They Made
For Steve Motyka, vice president of the SCRA, the outcome of the research is serving his group’s pursuit of environmental justice. “This research gives a tangible, professional report that shows what we’re doing,” he says. “It opened doors to mayors, councils and commissioners on the local level and state representatives.”

For Shamokin residents, McElroy says, “our project carries the potential to restore something greater than a creek — an entire community.”
— Katie Williard