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Current topic for class

Brian Mangan explains some of the things his class collected out of Harveys Creek during a field trip Thursday. A King’s College professor, Mangan teaches a graduate course on the Susquehanna River.

Fred Adams/For The Times Leader

King’s College professor Brian Mangan demonstrates a fish shocker to his class at Harveys Creek in West Nanticoke.

Fred Adams/For The Times Leader

The Susquehanna River is, in a way, its own classroom. So naturally, a King’s College professor has created a course focusing on the river.

Eleven area teachers enrolled in the three-credit course last week, which is headquartered in a classroom at the Susquehanna Energy Information Center in Salem Township. Field trips to demonstrate aquatic sampling techniques have taken students up and down the river, including scenic overlooks, a riparian wetland, streams affected by abandoned mine drainage, the inflatable dam in Sunbury, a sewage treatment plant and a local tributary of the river. The course wrapped up Friday with a visit to the new Susquehanna River Landing in Wilkes-Barre.

Professor Brian P. Mangan, 49, of Nescopeck Township, started the course seven years ago and parlayed his nearly three decades of experience studying and monitoring the river into its syllabus.

“That experience of working with the river led me to realize how important this natural resource was to this region and beyond,” Mangan said. He said the course, an offshoot of The Susquehanna River Institute that he’s the director of, had a “purpose of convincing people in this area that the river is much more than the sewer or enemy that many locals perceive it to be.”

Mangan said more than 100 teachers have taken the course in addition to a handful of others such as aquatic resource professionals and those interested in the river. “To date, most of the students -- if not all of them – have walked away from this course with either a new or renewed appreciation of the Susquehanna River. Many of them realize that it is arguably the most important natural resource in our region, and that it is a resource in recovery that needs our support.”

It’s a very hands-on course, which means students get dirty and wet.

On Thursday the group visited Harveys Creek in Lake Township to learn how to perform a stream survey. They measured the volume of water flowing through the stream, checked the water’s chemistry and surveyed the organisms that live in the stream.

The course also gives students a chance to learn about various topics related to the river and how they are tied together.

“Over the years the course has matured in its ability to bring together diffuse topics related to the Susquehanna River,” Mangan said. “For example, we had Michael Bedrin, the northeast regional director of the Department of Environmental Protection, provide a very informative lecture on water law in Pennsylvania. Then, on the heels of Mr. Bedrin’s lecture, we had Jerrold McCormick, senior environmental scientist at PPL’s nuclear plant, show us how his work has helped PPL meet state water regulations through stormwater management controls.”

In addition to the information the students take in throughout the week, they also have plenty of material to bring back to disseminate to their own students.

“The teachers leave the course with reams of information and materials that they can use in their classes,” Mangan said.

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