By Keith Gushard
The Meadville Tribune
Area nonprofit organizations shouldn’t be shy about applying for a nationwide chance to win a new vehicle, according to Wendy Kedzierski, project manager of Allegheny College’s nonprofit Creek Connections.
Last year, Creek Connections won a new van from Toyota USA in an Internet-based national contest, “100 Cars for Good,” held by Toyota. The automaker has started taking applications for this year’s contest.
“We were surprised that we won since it is a national program,” Kedzierski said. “You have to apply — you never know how it will work out.”
Creek Connections was one of 500 nationwide finalists in Toyota USA’s “100 Cars for Good” program, through which the automaker, by open-to-the-public vote, gave 100 cars to 100 nonprofit organizations nationwide.
Creek Connections competed for votes against four other agencies from around the country on July 20, 2012, and won with 35 percent of the votes cast that day.
Organizations may submit an application on Toyota’s “100 Cars for Good” Facebook page from now until Aug. 5 at 3 p.m. or until 2,500 applications have been received, whichever comes first.
Kedzierski said just being a finalist was huge for Creek Connections, which provides hands-on learning about the region’s waterways through hundreds of area school visits each year and annually reaches more than 6,000 students. All of it is done at no cost to teachers and schools.
“It was great we won, but if we lost it still raised awareness because we were able to get our program out and known,” she said. “With it a national program, it was a big exposure for us.”
Creek Connections works with schools not only in Crawford County but from southwestern New York down through western Pennsylvania to the Pittsburgh area.
Staff meet with the students to do water quality monitoring at their stream site as well as biological monitoring. Biological monitoring involves the students getting in their creek with nets to collect aquatic insects and other creatures. Additionally, the vehicle will be used to get watershed education loaner modules out to educators. The modules are on 16 different environmental and creek related topics.
The new Toyota van was delivered last October through Palmiero Toyota Scion of Meadville.
“Before we had it, we went a year without a vehicle,” she said. “We had to use our personal vehicles. It made a difference in getting out to schools.”
Creek Connections had a 2000 Toyota van it purchased new, Kedzierski said. However, that van was in an accident in 2011 and was written off as a total loss because of its age.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.