From staff reports
The Clarion Conservation District (CCD) hosted its fifth annual Earth Day celebration on Friday, April 22, in Cook Forest with about 100 local high school students.
The day began with a trout release and an explanation of the Trout Unlimited (TU) education program called Trout in the Classroom in which students raise trout in their classroom and release them once they are fingerlings.
One station was a forestry hike through the old-growth forest led by Dale Luthringer, DCNR environmental education specialist for Cook Forest State Park, and Holly May, DCNR service forester for Clear Creek State Forest.
Another site was an aquatics station in which students put on waders and used kick nets in the stream to find and identify macroinvertebrates. This station was led by Dr. Andy Turner, a professor at Clarion University, Clarion University students, and two CCD employees, Tricia Mazik and Alicia Ramsey.
Warden Alex DiCicco, Warden Sean Lauer, and Warden Jesse Bish from the Pennsylvania Game Commission led a station on eagles.
They also listened to a presentation about fishing and the types of fish that they might catch in the area presented by Trudy Alexander, the District Manager of the CCD, Matt Baker, a member of TU and a teacher at Keystone High School, and Matt Kerr.
The students, teachers, and volunteers were sent home with American Elderberry seedlings that were graciously sponsored by the Woodland Owners of Clarion-Allegheny Valley (WOCAV).
American Elderberry is a native shrub that provides an excellent source of food for birds, wildlife, and humans and also helps reduce erosion and water runoff.
The event was made possible by the help of the station leaders and volunteers that gave their time to help lead the students to the stations.
The celebration was coordinated by Hannah Bequeath, Clarion Conservation District’s new education and outreach coordinator.