Living, learning at lake brings reward, award

Living just down the road from Sweet Arrow Lake County Park in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, has been a blessing in so many ways.

The location has made it convenient for my husband, Barry, and me to take advantage of all the park has to offer. The facilities have served as gathering places for family reunions, a way to fish and kayak with friends, and geocaching—an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use a GPS mobile device or other navigational methods to hide and then seek containers—with our children.

The park also has served as a venue for learning how to plant a garden, worshiping at sunrise on Easter Sunday, and just taking a walk to the waterfalls with my Mom.

What a wonderful surprise it was then to learn that Barry and I had been awarded the honor of “Schuylkill Conservation District 2015 Educators of the Year.” In some respects—based on what we have received in return from use of the park and all our activities for the region—it seems as if we ought to give the district an award.

In fact, the conservation district is a great asset to our county and includes a variety of departments such as Parks & Recreation, for which I focus the majority of my work and volunteer time. The district has afforded me, my family and Diakon many opportunities for partnerships, with those programs having a wonderfully positive impact on our county.

Some of those programs include the Bear Creek Festival—a day devoted to kids, parents and grandparents to educate on various resources in the county; the Schuylkill County Fair, and Adopt an Acre. The district also was instrumental in helping to create—and now supports—Schuylkill On The Move, an effort with which both my husband and I were involved.

Moreover, the district has been a tremendous asset to Diakon Living & Learning. I have used the local facilities to host a variety of classes and events, everything from t’ai chi to feng shui, line dancing to natural folklore, hoe-downs, dances, and our annual Spring into Summer picnic.

With the park having served such an important role in my personal and professional life, I never hesitated to agree when asked by Bob Evanchalk of the district to serve on the Sweet Arrow Lake programing committee (of course, I have to admit this is the key committee on which I would want to serve—after all, it’s a group of conservation district and community residents working together to offer educational and fun events to the community!).

Being part of the committee has allowed me to have Diakon Living & Learning After 50 host annual events that attract hundreds of people. These events include Fire & Ice Winter Fest, ice-diving demonstration by the Schuylkill Haven Dive & Rescue Team, the Blue Moon clam bake, Kayaking demonstrations by our kayak club. In addition, I am excited to host a first-time event, a Community Harvest Potluck Dinner,” soon. I look forward to events planned this fall, including our Second Annual Fall Paddle Fest and the Change of Seasons Dance in November.

Even though the summer is not over, I look forward to the lake’s annual program meeting in December—to see what’s in store for 2016!

It truly is an honor to work with so many dedicated people helping to make life in Schuylkill County a delightful “Living & Learning” experience.

I need to extend a thank you to Bob Evanchalk for nominating us—and to the Conservation District for selecting us for this wonderful award.


Susan Long
Diakon Living & Learning after 50 Coordinator

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  • Our nephew put this on FB, and I am responding to this well-done article and award for you. So good to hear of your efforts to benefit your community, families, etc. Blessings to you as you continue to give of all the things God has given you. Because of Him, Mary Ann Baker

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