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Students help meet Pennsylvania’s 10 million trees goal


Pennsylvania College of Technology’s physical therapist assistant Class of 2021 recently helped to plant 140 trees as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership.

Twenty-one students gathered at Trailing Pines Tree Farm in Muncy to plant trees in late June.

The certified tree farm is owned by Paul Huffman, a 1987 graduate of Williamsport Area Community College, a forerunner of Penn College, and is dedicated to wildlife management and conservation.

Some of the Pennsylvania College of Technology physical therapist assistant students and employees who helped to plant trees at Trailing Pines Tree Farm in Muncy as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership. Front row (from left): Sierra K. Page, of Morrisdale; Daniella M. Pace, of Harding; Erica L. Gallagher, of Wyoming; and Matt Echevarria, of Carlisle. Back row (from left): Justin J. Forbes, of Coal Township; James A. Hardman, of Trout Run; Corbyn R. Schrader, of Canton; Emily E. Longenecker, of Hummelstown; Keyona Shoff, of Shamokin; Kiara M. Carr, of Middleburg; and Christine A. Tilburg, clinical director of the physical therapist assistant program.
Some of the Pennsylvania College of Technology physical therapist assistant students and employees who helped to plant trees at Trailing Pines Tree Farm in Muncy as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership. Front row (from left):
Sierra K. Page, of Morrisdale; Daniella M. Pace, of Harding; Erica L. Gallagher, of Wyoming; and Matt Echevarria, of Carlisle. Back row (from left): Justin J. Forbes, of Coal Township; James A. Hardman, of Trout Run; Corbyn R. Schrader, of Canton; Emily E. Longenecker, of Hummelstown; Keyona Shoff, of Shamokin; Kiara M. Carr, of Middleburg; and Christine A. Tilburg, clinical director of the physical therapist assistant program.

Huffman partners with the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, which is a collaborative effort of national, regional, state and local agencies, conservation organizations, outdoors enthusiasts, businesses, and citizens. The effort aims to facilitate the planting of 10 million new trees in priority landscapes in Pennsylvania by the end of 2025.

According to the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership website, trees are critical to life. Prioritizing the restoration and preservation of trees alongside streams, streets and other sensitive landscapes will have a profound impact on Pennsylvania.

On Huffman’s property, the students, joined by a handful of program faculty and staff, planted 108 red oak trees and 35 conifers.

Service learning is part of students’ education in Penn College’s physical therapist assistant program.

“During the first semester of the technical portion of the program, the students are introduced to the mottos of the American Physical Therapy Association,” explained Christine A. Tilburg, clinical director of physical therapist assistant. “One of these is ‘altruism.’”

Tilburg explained that APTA includes altruism – the concept of placing the needs of patients and clients ahead of the physical therapist assistant’s self‐interest – among its “values-based behaviors for the physical therapist assistant.”

Pennsylvania College of Technology physical therapist assistant student Jessica Doutrich, of Lebanon ...
Pennsylvania College of Technology physical therapist assistant student Jessica Doutrich, of Lebanon …
... and classmate James A. Hardman, of Trout Run, help to plant seedlings at Trailing Pines Tree Farm in Muncy.
… and classmate James A. Hardman, of Trout Run, help to plant seedlings at Trailing Pines Tree Farm in Muncy.

“In order to foster this lifelong behavior and the importance of community involvement, the Penn College PTA program requires a service-learning project,” Tilburg said. “The program also encourages participation in other community activities such as coat drives, canned food drives and, in collaboration with the college’s occupational therapy assistant program, a Hope Wellness project with Hope Enterprises locally.”

As part of their Introduction to Physical Therapy course, students collectively select a project. Early in the Spring 2020 semester, they voted to help with the tree-planting initiative.

“Everybody has a passion for the outdoors, and we are interested in helping the environment in any way possible,” explained student Shannon Cosentine, of Trout Run, president of the college’s Physical Therapist Assistant Club. “It was a good way for all of us to get together on the same level outside of the classroom.”

They had planned to plant the trees earlier in the year, but due to poor weather and COVID-19, the project was delayed.

On June 27, the students finally gathered at Huffman’s farm, where, despite rain – and lots of chatting because they hadn’t seen one another in months – they planted the trees in under an hour.

“It worked out,” Cosentine said. “The trees were viable, we got them all planted, and it rained, so we didn’t have to worry about the trees drying out. I think everyone felt good about helping Paul and his land and the environment as a whole.”

“I would like to thank the volunteer students, staff and families involved with the college whom all helped to plant these trees,” Huffman said. “Your volunteers showed the utmost respect, politeness and caring for the planting project. It truly shows that these young adults have received a quality education, (and that) the staff and parents have instilled values that are missing in this world today. Please know that I commend your staff and students as outstanding individuals and our future leaders.”

Although a follow-up project is not required for their courses, Cosentine said the students are eager to return to Huffman’s farm in the fall to help plant cherry trees.

American Tree Farm System signage affirms Huffman's commitment to sustainable forest management.
American Tree Farm System signage affirms Huffman’s commitment to sustainable forest management.

Huffman earned an associate degree in individual studies from WACC, with classes in food and hospitality management, with a concentration in management. In addition to his tree farm, he has been a supervisor for the state’s Bureau of Juvenile Justice for 26 years.

Penn College offers an associate degree in physical therapist assistant. Hands-on learning takes place in a well-equipped, on-campus laboratory where students practice skills and interventions. In addition, each student completes three clinical education experiences, available with more than 65 diverse organizations offering opportunities in inpatient, outpatient, long-term and specialty care.

To learn more about the college’s physical therapist assistant program, call 570-320-4439.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Photos by Victoria Hurwitz, director of physical therapist assistant

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