Keystone State Park programs focus on conservation, links with South America |

Keystone State Park programs focus on conservation, links with South America

Jeff Himler
Charles Bryson | USDA
A monarch butterfly collects nectar from a flower. Buttrflies are one of nature’s many pollinators for flowers and crops.

Links between North America and South America will be explored as part of Keystone State Park’s observance of Latino Conservation Week, July 13-21.

An initiative of the Hispanic Access Foundation, the week supports members of the Latino community who explore activities in the outdoors and helps to protect natural resources.

According to Jean Keene, naturalist at the park in Derry Township, the week also encourages diversity in park attendance. The four programs she has planned at the park’s Kell Visitor Center are free and open to all.

The programs are “focused on organisms that we share with the South American continent,” she said.

• “Birds and Brews” is set for 9 a.m. to noon July 14.

Visitors who stop at the center will learn about birds that migrate between here and South America. They’ll also have the opportunity to sample “shade-grown, bird habitat-friendly” coffee, Keene said.

To produce the coffee beans growers will raise plants in small plots amid the rainforest, rather than “completely clear-cutting for an entire coffee plantation.” The surrounding trees provide a habitat for birds. Leaves and twigs that fall to the ground help replenish nutrients in the soil depleted by the coffee plants, she explained.

• “Monarch Madness” will be presented at 4 p.m. July 15.

Each fall, monarch butterflies, with distinctive orange-and-black patterned wings, migrate up to 3,000 miles from North America to winter roosting sites in Mexico.

Participants will learn how they can support scientific projects that track the butterflies. Then they’ll head into the park to look for local plants that support the reproduction and early growth of the insects, Keene said. “We’ll identify milkweed and see if we can find some monarch caterpillars,” she said.

• “Pollinators and Native Wildflowers” is scheduled at 10 a.m. July 20.

After a presentation on flowering plants that are native to the area, and the species that help pollinate them, attendees will seek examples of them on the park grounds.

• A “Sustainable Living Workshop” will be held beginning at 2 p.m. July 21.

“We’ll give people tips and techniques for living more sustainably at home,” Keene said. That includes using natural cleaning products, reducing trash and reducing carbon emissions, in part by making some staple items instead of buying them.

Keene will offer homemade bread and butter for people to sample and some activities that kids can try.

For more information about programming at the park, contact [email protected] or call 724-668-2939.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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