The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

July 15, 2013

Conservation group plans Family Day event

Sean Sauro

ST. MICHAEL — Environmentally conscious and curious youth are to get the opportunity to participate in educational programs Wednesday and Thursday at the 1889 Park in St. Michael.

The programs are part of the Cambria County Conservation District Family Day – an annual event where children learn about the environment through specialized activities, spokeswoman Jocelyn Sauter said.

“This is our 13th annual Family Day,” she said. “Basically it’s a two-day event we hold every summer.”

Family Day will begin with registration at 9 a.m. both days followed by an opening presentation and educational activities.

Participating children are to be divided into groups that will then rotate through several hour-long educational activities and presentations.

“There are three programs that they rotate through every day,” Sauter said, adding that though they are educational, children will be able to do some hands-on work.

Some of these activities include making usable crayons during a soy presentation; making a tie-dye shirt at a program teaching about acid mine drainage; and making a coal drawing at a presentation about coal.

Other programs, including an archaeologist showcasing artifacts and a mini-golf course in place to educate children about rodents, also will be held.

“It’s a little mini-golf course with four holes. Each hole teaches them something different,” Sauter said, explaining that the information will be about why rodents are bad for their homes and about the  proper use of pesticides.

Because sponsors have made both monetary and food donations, Sauter said children are able to attend Family Day for only $2 each day.

“We are able to make a lot of those programs available because of our sponsors,” she said.

After the educational programs are completed, an ice cream treat will be offered, followed by a special presentation.

“It’s a program at the end of the day where everyone comes together,” Sauter said.

A program about owls will be presented Wednesday.

Live owls will be brought in for the children to see, and they will be educated about the owls’ secrets and habits, she said.

A reptile presentation will held at the end of the day Thursday. Children will be able to see a bearded lizard eat crickets and will be able to see the largest salamander species in the world.

Sauter said she doesn’t think the children will be able to touch the owls, but the reptile show is a different story.

“On Day Two, they will be able to interact with the animals.”

Family Day will wrap up each day with an evaluation period ending at 3:30 p.m.

Sauter said the program has been successful, and she knows people enjoy it because there are many repeat visitors.

“It’s been a success every year,” she said. “Most of the families that come are repeats. They’ve been coming years in a row because they look forward to it all year.”

Registration for the event has concluded, Sauter said, so there will not be room for walk-ins.

“We just can’t accommodate for that,” Sauter said.

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