Trapper to share knowledge about turtles during park program
His Native American name means “Turtles are Coming,” and that will certainly be the case Saturday, when Greg Levish shares his passion and knowledge of the shelled reptiles at the Harrison Hills Environmental Learning Center.
The Sarver man's “Turtle Talk” program at the Harrison park will cover a broad range of information. Donations, which are earmarked for learning-center expenses, will be accepted. Reservations will be taken until Friday.
“There's a lot of interesting facts about turtles that people don't know,” Levish says.
Among them will be information about snapping turtles and other turtles of Pennsylvania, turtle trapping — a regulated and unique sport, and the Native American's relationship with the reptile.
In fact, it was at a presentation on Native American lore at the learning center that Levish approached the park about a program. It seemed like a great fit, according to Mardelle Kopnicky, a volunteer with Friends of Harrison Hills.
“We do try to do a diverse group of programs, and almost every program is done free of charge, like Greg is doing,” she says.
Levish has been trapping turtles, and learning about them, for 28 years.
From his experience in the swamps of northern Pennsylvania to the Lenape Turtle Clan powwows in Saltsburg, he has taken many lessons.
“It's been a very rewarding experience in my life, and I enjoy sharing with people,” he says. “There aren't too many turtle-trapping fools like me.”
Apparently, though, there are plenty who appreciate the turtle. Among them are the Native Americans, who value the turtle for a number of reasons. Levish has worked with local Native Americans to provide turtles, which they use to make objects, from jewelry to bowls to shields.
“Every animal in their culture had a very distinct meaning or use,” he says, “whether for dancing or ceremonial purposes.”
Appropriate for this late-winter season is the turtle's symbolic connection, in Native American belief, to spring.
“When you see a turtle crawling out of the mud, it means spring is here,” Levish says.
“To the Native Americans, it signified new life. It meant in the spring of the year, turtles would crawl out of the mud, out of hibernation, and new life would appear. And it did.”
Another seasonal connection is an edible one, with turtle soup at one time being a Lenten favorite. Samples will be served at the presentation.
“During Lent, the churches always made turtle soup, instead of fish fries,” Kopnicky says. “So it really was a big tradition around here.”
Whatever the takeaway may be for “Turtle Talk” attendees, Levish is glad to be able to share.
“It's just kind of my way of giving back from what I've taken from the wild and to share with people and, hopefully, get others involved,” he says.
Julie Martin is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Keystone Markers give insights about towns but have fallen victim to time, theft or traffic accidents
- ‘Wax weed’ worries authorities
- Pyrotechnics display turns from benefit to burden in Tarentum
- United Way Impact Fund Grants to award $445K to 26 Butler County nonprofits
- Alle-Kiski Valley seniors get free lift to doctor’s office
- Tarentum native purchases 2 lots by Allegheny River
- Giant puppets turn heads at South Butler library
- Plum landslide to be fixed after year
- Harrison officer known for sense of duty, humor
- State store relocates to Highlands Mall
- Man who threatened to jump from Tarentum Bridge in custody