Additional PAGE LINKS:
- Great Non-Profits
- Importance of the Swatara Creek
- Membership Application
- Volunteer Form
- Swatara Creek YouTube Channel
- Swatara Watershed Park:
Additional PAGE LINKS:
SWA Mission: “To promote the conservation of the natural resources of the Swatara Watershed by conducting scientific investigations and research, disseminating information, conducting educational programs, sponsoring conservation projects and all activities incidental thereto.”
The Swatara Creek Watershed Association, Inc. was founded in 1970 in response to encouragement from the Chamber of Commerce and State and federal agencies to promote conservation of the Swatara Creek Watershed. The corporation was active in the 70’s then became dormant. Approximately 1986 a group of citizens became concerned about landfills being projected close to the Swatara Creek in Schuylkill County, PA. As a result, they formed an association known as Citizens Coordinating for Clean Water (CCCW). This group ultimately became active with regard to broader aspects concerning the Swatara Creek Watershed. The increased size of the organization to over 100, expanded activities, and availability of government and private grants to support some of its educational activities caused CCCW to consider incorporating. Several of the directors of the Swatara Creek Watershed Association were involved in the affairs of CCCW and it was suggested as a matter of economy to reactivate Swatara Creek Watershed Association, Inc. whose original purpose matched those of CCCW. The last directors of the corporation met and agreed to become active again and to assimilate the activities of CCCW. In 2009, the organization’s name was shortened to Swatara Watershed Association.
Jo Ellen Litz has been president of the Swatara Watershed Association for over 30 years. As a First Class Girl Scout, it’s her passion to protect Clean Water. Her father took her trout fishing so she got to see what clean water is all about. Her grandfather took her swimming in the Little Swatara Creek where here sister came out with leeches all over her body. Her mom took her swimming at Lion’s Lake where pig manure ran into the entrance, and she’d get painful boils in the days that followed. Her husband took her scuba diving in lakes, rivers, grotto’s, and oceans where she saw American Eels, starfish, whales, dolphins, sea horses, barracuda, and many other creatures. She is certified as a Rescue Diver, and volunteered on teams that recovered drowning victims and discarded guns used in homicides.
A graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Lebanon Valley College, and Kennedy Western University, Jo Ellen also ran Lebanon (Auto) Body Shop where she handled hazardous waste, and she serves in her 6th term as a Lebanon County Commissioner. She brings a unique blend of conservation, business and government experience to the table.
In 2020, Bethany Canner was appointed to the SWA Board, and elected VP in 2021. Bethany’s farm is east of Swatara Watershed Park on Blacks Bridge Road. She is a Master Watershed Steward, mom, and has a biology degree from Bloomsburg University. She hit the ground running, eradicating invasive species like spotted lanternfly, tree of heaven…and successfully writing two grants, one in partnership with Keystone 10 Million Trees. Bethany secured trees to stabilize the bank along the Swatara Creek at Swatara Watershed Park. She’s holding an edible mushroom, but don’t ask where it is. She won’t tell you as she goes back each year for the harvest.
Fred is a retired earth and science teacher who loves the outdoors. He is always ready to help with a cleanup, down a dead tree, or share his knowledge of the Spotted Lantern Fly. Fred shepherds the Little Swatara Creek, and serves as secretary on the Bethel Berks Environmental Advisory Council.
In 2017, Gavin Bender came to SWA for an Eagle Scout project, which was assembling or refurbishing and installing three Swatara Water Trail signs at new launches. Specifically, Swopes Valley Road, Emrich Farm, and Schiavoni Park to aid paddlers to enjoy the outdoors; participate in wellness activities; educate visitors and share the features of history, geology, and scenic beauty along the Swatara Water Trail; and aid first responder search and rescue efforts. Gavin also works in a local accounting office. He became interested in becoming an SWA Board member, and in 2021 was elected as Treasurer.
Board members: Mike Adams, Hershey Outfitters; Bob Arnold, Hershey Foods, retired; Gavin Bender, student and Eagle Scout; Bethany Canner, Master Watershed Steward; Charles Cravotta, USGS; Fred Folmer, retired Science Teacher; Stephanie Harmon, Watershed Specialist, Lebanon County Conservation District; Jo Ellen Litz, Lebanon County commissioner; Jack Stouffer, retired from Milton Hershey School.
Also pictured are former Board Members Dick Blouch (deceased), Tom Embich, Ann Lasky, and Ben Miller.