Johnson College Receives Grant from PPL Foundation For Stem Outreach Program

Johnson College is pleased to announce it has received a $5,000 grant from the PPL Foundation. These funds will support a STEM outreach program to teach 75 high school students about renewable energy and build their own solar cell phone chargers. 

The goal of the workshop is to introduce participants to solar power concepts with an object that is suitable for everyday use.  Participants will build a solar-powered cell phone charger and learn about solar cells, lithium-ion batteries, and various electronic modules that construct a cell phone charger. The workshop gives the participant an understanding of all the components required to produce a portable solar-powered cell phone charger. The program also introduces the students to occupations in Electrical Engineering and Electrical Construction.

“The PPL Foundation grant gives local high school students the opportunity to experience the real-world, hands-on learning Johnson College is known to provide its students,” said Dr. Katie Leonard, Johnson College President & CEO. “Our STEM Outreach Program provides local students an introduction to in-demand careers within essential industries throughout our region and beyond.” 

The PPL Foundation awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process. 

About Johnson College: Johnson College provides real-world, hands-on learning in a caring environment and prepares graduates to enter into or advance their careers. Johnson College degrees become essential careers. Johnson College was founded in 1912 and is the region’s premier technical college, offering 17 associate degrees and 4 academic certificate programs. A low student-to-teacher ratio supports an emphasis on hands-on instruction. Located in Scranton on a 44-acre campus, the College is an accredited, private, non-profit, co-educational institution with a strong tradition of working with regional businesses and industries to ensure a skilled and qualified workforce. For additional information on Johnson College, please call 1-800-2-WE-WORK, email, or visit

About the PPL Foundation: Through strategic partnerships, the PPL Foundation supports organizations working to create vibrant, sustainable communities; promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; and empower each citizen to fulfill her or his potential. The PPL Foundation contributes more to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations in eastern and central Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit

Photo Caption: Johnson College receives a $5,000 grant from the PPL Foundation to teach high school students about the benefits of STEM-related programs. Left to right: Alana Roberts, Regional Affairs Director, PPL Electric Utilities; Dr. Katie Leonard, President & CEO, Johnson College; Kellyn Williams, Dr. Kellyn Williams, Associate Vice President of Special Programs, Johnson College.

Gibbons Ford Contributes $10,000 to Johnson College’s Innovation at Work Capital Campaign   

Johnson College received a $10,000 contribution from Gibbons Ford in support of the College’s comprehensive, five-year capital campaign, Innovation at Work.

Gibbons Ford is a long-standing industry partner with Johnson College. They support the College and its students by making monetary and in-kind contributions, participating in the Automotive Technology program advisory committee, hosting student interns, and inviting students to participate in live program labs inside their dealership in Dickson City, PA.

“The best thing we can invest in is our future and the students at Johnson College are that future,” said Darryl Jayne, General Manager, Gibbons Ford.

“Generous contributions to our capital campaign from industry partners like Gibbons Ford, help the College continue to deliver to students the real-world, hands-on experience for which we are known,” said Dr. Katie Leonard, President & CEO, Johnson College. “Working with industry gives our students a competitive edge in the workplace as they are exposed daily to new technologies, emerging fields of study, and the most sophisticated equipment.”

The Innovation at Work campaign consists of four components that will create an environment for continued growth and success: the construction of Ideal Saldi Hall, a new gateway building that will become the official entrance to the campus and include new lab and classroom spaces; the expansion of Woolworth Hall, which houses on-campus lab space for programs including Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning and Electrical Construction Technology; the creation of a Transportation Education Center; and support of the College’s Annual Fund and student scholarships. For more details about the “Innovation at Work” campaign, visit

Photo Caption: Left to right: Darryl Jayne, General Manager, Gibbons Ford, Ashley Bechaver, IT & Human Resources, Gibbons Ford, John Grow, Dealer Principal, Gibbons Ford, Dr. Katie Leonard, President & CEO, Johnson College, and Karen Baker, Sr. Director of College Advancement, Johnson College.

Nose to Tail: Keeping pets safe in water


Originally published in the July 22, 2022, edition of the Valley Advantage.

Summer is upon us, and one of the great benefits of living in NEPA is being outdoors and enjoying all the natural beauty our area offers.

Not only do we love to spend time in nature, but so do our furry counterparts! Although nature has countless benefits, there can be danger lingering in our water sources. This life-threatening concern for our beloved pets is known as Cyanobacteria (previously known as blue-green algae), also referred to as HABs or harmful algal blooms. As a concerned pet parent, you need to know how to deal with this problem, so let’s get to the details!

Our first question is, “What is Cyanobacteria?”

Although referred to as algae, Cyanobacteria or HABs, are a type of microscopic bacteria that occur throughout the country. There are multiple species of Cyanobacteria, and these organisms can resemble algae when clumped together in bodies of water. It is important to note that some species have the potential to become HABs that produce toxins, while others do not, and concentrations vary throughout the year and therefore may not always be harmful.

The algae that become toxic undergoes a period of rapid growth in calm/still bodies of water when an abundance of nutrients is available during the warmer months when water temperatures are high. More than 30 species of Cyanobacteria can produce four types of toxins that can damage the nervous system, skin, kidneys or liver. Unfortunately, results are most commonly fatal.

“How do I know where it is safe for my pet,?” is our second question.

These toxic algae blooms can be found in many places, including fresh water, salt water, backyard pools and ponds, if not cleaned regularly. Observing the following signs is helpful when looking for a safe place to cool down with your pet, but lab analysis is needed to confirm HABs in a suspected body of water. Due to the severity of HABs to your pet’s health, it is better to avoid the area altogether.

That being said, some toxic algae blooms can be blue-green, some red and brown and others can resemble paint floating on top of the water.

Another way to help identify this toxin is a slimy or foamy “scum” or mat appearance on the surface of the water or shoreline. Also, keep in mind that some (not all) toxic algae may produce a foul odor. Dead fish or other dead wildlife in a body of water can also be a warning sign. Other helpful advice is to keep an eye out for HABs watch, advisory or warning signage from official agencies.

Our third question is, “What do I do if I suspect my pet ingested or came in contact with HABs?”

First, if applicable, thoroughly rinse your pet off in fresh water, but also be sure to wear gloves to protect yourself! Next, seek veterinary help immediately. Symptoms can arise anywhere from 15 minutes to several days post-exposure. Some symptoms may include staggering, drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing or seizures. It is crucial that you seek professional veterinary care! Afterward, it is recommended to report the suspected bloom to your state’s health department to aid other animals and their owners avoid this frightening event.

Multiple resources are available if you want to learn more about Cyanobacteria and how to keep you and your pets safe while having fun in the water this summer. We suggest reviewing the HABs page on Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection website, The Pennsylvania HABs Task Force, which includes representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. You can also contact your veterinary offices, which can supply valuable information.

Have fun this summer, be safe and always look before you — or your pets — leap into the water.

Amanda Melnyk, ’09, AS, CVT, ’is a full-time CVT instructor at Johnson College’s veterinary nursing program as well as a clinical rotation instructor at Johnson College’s Animal Care Center on campus. She has been a part of the veterinary field for 14 years.