Moraine State Park provides programs to educate participants, parents
By Rick Wills
Published: Saturday, July 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
When Scott Carter took a summer internship at Moraine State Park, he did not imagine he would be dragging fish nets through Lake Arthur.
But that's exactly what he did last week in driving rain during an education program for young children.
“It's a different experience every day. It's never the same,” said Carter, a student at St. Francis University in Loretto, Cambria County, who plans to study environmental studies or park management in graduate school.
The fish net was part of a demonstration of aquatic life for a group of about 20 Hide N Seekers — participants in an education program for 4- and 5-year-old children that combines outdoor activities with stories and crafts.
The fish net trapped baby bluegills, perch and sunfish.
One of dozens of programs in the 16,725-acre park, Hide N Seekers aims to educate children about the lake.
“The theme of the program this year is the lake, what lives in it — fish and aquatic plants. It raises the awareness of the children,” said Nicole Simon, an environmental education specialist at the park.
At last week's session, children heard stories about aquatic life from Stephanie Taylor, another environmental education specialist at Moraine. In a question-and-answer session, she showed children models of various fish, a king fisher muskrats and a raccoon pelt.
“Even I'm learning from this. This is information that most adults don't know,” said Jennifer Aglio of Butler, who brought her daughter, Avery, 5.
Avery and the other children used molds to make clay animals.
Last week's session was held at a pavilion in the park's Lakeview area on Lake Arthur's North Shore. Despite heavy rain, the group spent about 20 minutes at the lake shore.
“We don't cancel unless there is an electrical storm,” Simon said.
Many of the children in the program are from families who regularly visit the park. “We love Moraine. We come here all the time,” said Megan Oldenski of Harmony, who brought her two sons, Landon, 6, and Keegan, 4.
Other activities at the park include sessions on bats and fireflies; kayaking lessons; and geocaching, a treasure hunting game in which people use a GPS to hide, and then find, containers.
The Moraine Preservation Fund, a nonprofit volunteer organization, supports the park. It has helped develop important wildlife restoration projects like the osprey and barn owl reintroduction programs.
The fund also operates the park's gift shop and Nautical Nature boat, a 37-passenger enclosed pontoon boat that offers interpretive boat tours and is used for the summer's popular weekly pizza cruises.
Moraine State Park, which opened in 1970, is named for the glacial moraines, or glacial debris of soil and rock, that cover its land. The moraines were formed at the end of the last glacial period.
The area was once a site of mining and drilling for oil and natural gas.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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