The Abernathy Fund for Conservation was created by the Abernathy Family to support conservation projects in Washington County and to provide support to Washington & Jefferson College for the maintenance of the Abernathy Nature Preserve.
The Abernathy Preserve, also known as the Abernathy Field Station (AFS), is an ideal outdoor classroom encompassing many different ecosystems including mixed deciduous forest, a stand of conifers, several springseeps, two larger perennial streams, a wetland, and a mowed field. These habitats support diverse assemblages of birds, salamanders, fishes, small mammals, white-tailed deer, insects, and over 100 trees.
With funding from the Abernathy Fund for Conservation, Washington & Jefferson faculty and students have been conducting long-term monitoring of two streams at the Abernathy Preserve. Water is sampled and analyzed by a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection certified laboratory. Data collected during the grant period is combined with previously collected data to provide an assessment of the effects of drilling on water quality at the AFS.
The Abernathy Fund for Conservation also supports a second project at W&J entitled "Connecting Children To Nature Through Photography." With the help of W&J students, the project connects elementary students to local natural resources by educating them on Washington County ecology. Children use cameras to focus on local plants and animals as well as general ecological concepts.
In conjunction with the "Connecting Children To Nature Through Photography" project, two W&J faculty members and three W&J students also worked with fourteen middle school students from Washington and Allegheny Counties to learn nature and photography and focus on local biodiversity at the Abernathy Preserve. In addition, students in several W&J classes used cameras purchased with Abernathy funds to add to the "Life@AFS" project.
Additional grants from the fund have been used to plant trees in Washington Park and on Main Street in Hickory, to help build a conservancy garden at Presbyterian SeniorCare, to support the garden area of the Donnell House in Washington, and to conduct a feasibility study for the Chartiers Creek Water Trail.
Interested 501(c)(3) agencies may apply for grants from the Abernathy Fund for Conservation during the annual Designated Field of Interest grant cycle. Grants from this fund will help support environmental awareness and nature in Washington County.