The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 17, 2013

Environmental education: Event combines fun and learning

ST. MICHAEL — Area youngsters are having two days of fun, but with an educational twist.

The Cambria County Conservation District is hosting its 13th annual Family Days – A Natural World Exploration event at Disaster’s Edge in the 1889 Park. The event began Wednesday and will continue today with the purpose of educating children and their families about environmental issues and wildlife through various activities.

The program is geared toward 8- to 12-year-olds.

“We place an emphasis on environmental education and teaching kids about the world around them,” said Mary Ellen Bard, administrative assistant with the conservation district. “It’s something different to do in the summer and is an informal and relaxing day for families to learn together.”

On both days, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s Mobile Ag Lab was offering participants the chance to make soy crayons and learn about pollinators.

On Wednesday, stations were set up around the park where children could make a tie-dye shirt during a program on acid mine drainage and create a coal drawing at a presentation led by a local coal miner and his wife.

A highlight of the day was a presentation from Shaver’s Creek with live owls.

Today’s offerings include a session with an archaeologist featuring local artifacts and a mini-golf course designed to teach the youth about rodents.

The event wraps up with a reptile presentation by Animal Tracks, where children will be able to see a bearded dragon, a ball python and the largest salamander species in the world.

“Every year we try to do something different and never repeat things we’ve done from the previous year because we have a lot of returning families,” Bard said.

Amy Gates of Mineral Point has been bringing her two grandchildren, Colby and Melanie Jones, to the event for a few years.

“We come both days and enjoy it,” she said. “It’s a break from just sitting at home, and it’s educational for them.”

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