Friends of the Parks will kick off its 30th year of programs in local and state parks with its annual potluck dinner at 6 p.m. Jan. 25. The dinner will be held at the Indiana Fire Station on Indian Springs Road in White Township. Attendees are asked to register by calling (724) 463-8636.
Guests are asked to bring their own table setting and a covered dish, main dish or casserole, salad or side dish. Beverages and a cake will be provided. Friends are welcome.
Jim and Clarice Reber will present a program following the dinner, “Autumn in the Eastern Sierra Mountains.” They will share photos of autumn and an early snow in the Eastern Sierra, including shots of Mono Lake, Bodie State Historic Park, Devil’s Postpile, an ancient bristlecone forest, the former Japanese internment camp Manzanar, the Alabama Hills and Mount Whitney.
Friends of the Parks is dedicated to encouraging residents to visit the parks and learn about nature. Most programs are free and open to the public. A brochure listing all the programs that includes a membership application is available in the offices of Blue Spruce Park, Yellow Creek State Park, the Indiana County Tourist Bureau and the Indiana Free Library. Program information can also be found by visiting www.indianacountyparks.org and following the link to Friends of the Parks. To receive program reminders, “like” Friends of the Parks on its Facebook page.
This year’s schedule includes a wide range of programs. Animal programs include those on bees, bald eagles, salamanders, fireflies, bats, moths, dragonflies and owls. Of special interest is a program to observe electro-fishing (April 26) and one to view and touch live reptiles (June 14). There are travel programs on Panama, Iceland and Belize. There is a variety of gardening programs, including those in co-operation with Penn State Master Gardeners and also with the Mack Park Community Garden.
Cindy Rogers will be leading a series of four walks in Blue Spruce Park to find native and alien wild weeds during each season of the year. Two of the most popular programs are Maple Sugaring at Kinter Farm on March 8-9 and Campfire Fun: Music and Marshmallows, a good old-fashioned summer’s evening campfire sing-along and marshmallow roast with Anthony Frazier on June 21.
Following is the complete schedule:
Saturday, Jan. 25
Friends Potluck Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. at the Indiana Fire Station on Indian Springs Road with a program by Jim and Clarice Reber. Enjoy photos of autumn and an early snow in the Eastern Sierra Mountains. Hear stories and view the sites in this area. Registration is required by calling (724) 463-8636.
Friday, Feb. 7
Panama, by Larry Turton, will be held at 7 p.m. at the Blue Spruce Park Lodge. Panama is a country in transition with major cities while retaining its Old World landmarks and its tropical characteristics. Those attending will visit all of these environments as seen through the lens of Larry Turton.
Saturday, Feb. 15
Raised Bed Gardening, by Larry DeChurch, will be held at 1 p.m. at the Courthouse Annex Meeting Room, 827 Water St. Join Master Gardener Larry DeChurch to learn the pros and cons of raised-bed gardening. Discussion will include materials, techniques, cost and how to cover your raised bed so it can be used for early spring or late fall planting. Register by calling (724) 463-8636.
Saturday, Feb. 22
More Bees, If You Please, by Burl Knupp, will be held at 10 a.m. at the Courthouse Annex Meeting Room, 827 Water St. Learn how a colony of bees functions as one super organism. Using an interactive, larger-than-life beehive, volunteers will act out the functions of the different bees. A live demonstration of how bees sting will be presented. Registration is recommended by calling (724) 463-8636.
Sunday, Feb. 23
Winter “Weed” Walk, with Cindy Rogers, will be held at 2 p.m. at Blue Spruce Park’s Lakeside Center. Join Cindy Rogers to find native and alien wild weeds in Blue Spruce Park at different times of the year. Learn to identify different plants on winter, spring (Mother’s Day), summer and fall “Weed Walks.” Come to one program or all four. Dress for the weather. Programs will be held unless weather is severe. Register by calling (724) 463-8636.
Friday, Feb. 28
Bald Eagles, by Pat Snickles, will be presented at 7 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Learn about the life cycle and biology of the bald eagle as well as the history of the state’s Bald Eagle Reintroduction Program, which has been one of the Game Commission’s most successful programs.
Saturday, March 8
Maple Sugaring at Kinter Farm will be held at 2 p.m. This is the FOP annual maple sugaring event. Come with us and learn all about maple sugaring. For directions call (724) 463-8636.
Sunday, March 9
Maple Sugaring at Kinter Farm. A repeat of this popular event will be held at 2 p.m.
Friday, March 14
Intriguing Iceland, by Rebecca Sterley, will be held at 7 p.m. at the Blue Spruce Park Lodge.
Iceland, an island a bit smaller than Kentucky, is still growing due to volcanic action. Enjoy a photo journey of glaciers, waterfalls, lava fields, a lava cave crawl, hot springs, mud pots, geysers, puffins and Icelandic horse trekking.
Saturday, March 29
Bird Walk, with Margaret Higbee, and the Todd Bird Club will be held at 8 a.m. at Yellow Creek State Park. Join the Todd Bird Club as members look for migrating waterfowl on Yellow Creek Lake. The wide variety of water birds makes this one of the top five birding destinations in Pennsylvania. Meet at the park office and dress for the weather. Guests will drive to several locations near the lake for short walks. The Bird Club will spend three hours, but you may spend a shorter time.
Saturday, April 5
Pruning Your Shrubs, by Bob Pollock and Ralph Sweithelm, will be held at 10 a.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Learn how to prune many common and not-so-common landscape shrubs in this workshop. Extension educator Bob Pollock and Master Gardener Ralph Sweithelm will share tips for creating more beautiful and healthier landscape plants.
Friday, April 11
An Eco-Lodge in Belize, by Bob and Lori Rittle, will be presented at 7 p.m. at the Blue Spruce Park Lodge. The presentation is on a rainforest in rural Central America. Step inside the traditional, thatched homes of indigenous Mayan villagers. Slash-and-burn farming provides their typical diet of corn and beans. Can cacao trees, along with a local chocolate factory, provide the sustainable, cash crop needed to maintain this ancient culture?
Saturday, April 26
Electro-Fishing, by Eric Chapman, will be presented at 2 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Join Eric Chapman, director of aquatic science with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, for a shocking look into the life of trout populations. After a short presentation, participants will head to Little Yellow Creek for a demonstration of Electro-fishing, and see fish you have never seen before. It is recommended to bring rubber boots if you have them.
Sunday, May 4
Morel Mushroom Walk, with the Western PA Mushroom Club, will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at the Pine Ridge County Park Lodge, Burrell Township. Morel mushrooms are one of the most sought-after and elusive mushrooms. Slides will illustrate morels as well as poisonous look-a-likes. Proper cleaning, storing and cooking techniques will be covered. After small-group walks, participants will regroup to identify all mushrooms that were found. Registration is required by calling (724) 463-8636.
Sunday, May 11
Mother’s Day Wildflower Walk and Tea, by Cindy Rogers, will be held at 2 p.m. at Blue Spruce Park’s Lakeside Center. Join Cindy Rogers for a walk around the park identifying wildflowers and their uses. After, there will be treats and beverages using some of the plants seen on the walk. The program will take place in light rain or sunshine, but will be canceled in the event of heavy rain or thunderstorms. Registration is required by calling (724) 463-8636.
Saturday, May 17
Lyme Disease, by Thomas Ford, will be presented at 10 a.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Lyme Disease is becoming very prevalent in our area. This tick-vectored disease can cause life-altering health impacts to people and pets if not diagnosed early. Learn how the disease is transmitted, how to recognize the symptoms and, most importantly, how to protect yourself.
Saturday, May 31
Abandoned Mine Drainage: Origins and Treatment will be presented by Adam Cotchen at 10 a.m. at the Waterworks Conservation Area. Coal mining before 1977 stimulated the local economy, but often left scars because no bonds were required to pay for reclamation. The Indiana County Conservation District, along with nonprofit watershed groups, works to treat water runoff from these abandoned sites. Participants will explore how mine drainage forms underground and how an automated treatment system operates at the Indiana Waterworks Conservation Area. For registration and directions, call (724) 463-8636.
Sunday, June 8
Salamander Safari, with Mike Shaffer, will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Join Park Naturalist Mike Shaffer exploring Laurel Run for salamanders and other critters. Wear shoes that can get wet. The event is great fun for the whole family. Registration is required by calling (724) 357-7913.
Saturday, June 14
Wonderful World of Reptiles, by Erik Vogel, will be held from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Learn about reptiles and amphibians. There will be live reptiles to view and touch such as snakes, turtles and the American alligator. Then join a snake safari looking for snakes around the Environmental Learning Center.
Saturday, June 21
Campfire Fun: Music and Marshmallows, with Anthony Frazier, will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s North Shore Pavilion. Join Anthony Frazier for a good old-fashioned summer’s evening campfire sing-along and marshmallow roast. For directions, call (724) 357-7913.
Saturday, June 28
Growing and Using Culinary Herbs, by Sue Weiland, will be held at 10 a.m. Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Learn how to successfully grow, harvest, dry and use 12 culinary herbs. Master Gardener Sue Weiland will share informative tips for growing your own herbs and enhancing food with them. Those interested will then visit the Yellow Creek herb garden.
Saturday, June 28
Fireflies: Lightning in a Bottle, by Mike Shaffer, will be held from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Learn about fireflies through storytelling, catching fireflies and making your own firefly to take home. See if you can catch lightning in a bottle. This is a children’s program that is fun for the whole family. Bring a flashlight. Registration is required by calling (724) 357-7913.
Saturday, July 5
Paddling the Lakes, with Mike Shaffer, will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s boat rental (Main Day Use Area). Join Naturalist Mike Shaffer and recreation coordinator Emily Borcz for kayak instruction and a 2-hour paddle on Yellow Creek Lake. For ages 12 and up. Those 17 and younger must be accompanied by an adult/guardian. The program is limited to the first 18 people for each time period. Registration is required by calling (724) 357-7913. Participants must indicate if they will use Yellow Creek’s kayaks.
Saturday, July 12
Native Gardens and Habitat — Planting for Wildlife, by Ed Donley, will be held at 10 a.m. at the Donley property on Five Points Road. Visit a 39-acre home site, with meadow and ponds, that is planted with all native flora to beautify the landscape and provide for a thriving natural community. See how the balance of life in a pond is maintained without chemicals. Learn about native Pennsylvania flowers in the meadow. Participants can take with them some native flower seeds, a flower seedling and the knowledge of how to make them grow. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org or (724) 463-8636.
Sunday, July 13
Summer “Weed” Walk, with Cindy Rogers, will be held at 2 p.m. at Blue Spruce Park’s Pavilion #4. Join Cindy Rogers to find native and alien wild weeds in Blue Spruce Park at different times of the year. For details, see the description for her Winter Walk on Feb. 23. Register by calling (724) 463-8636.
Saturday, July 19
Taste and Tour the Indiana Community Garden, with Kay Snyder, at 10 a.m. at Mack Park’s Community Garden. See what’s growing there and sample fresh food. Learn about plants, bugs, worms, composting, eating garden goodies, creating various types of gardens and using rain barrels to collect water. Hands-on children’s activities are included. Register by calling (724) 463-8636.
Saturday, July 26
Bats: Up Close and Personal, with Mike Shaffer, will be held at 8 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s North Shore Pavilion. Come and learn about these misunderstood creatures, visit the park’s bat boxes and conduct a bat count. In the past participants have seen close to 200 bats coming out of just one bat house. Bring a blanket to sit on.
Saturday, Aug. 2
Visit Tunnelview Historic Site from 2 to 4 p.m., at your leisure. Tour this trail of transportation history. A guide from Indiana County Parks and Trails will be available to point out features related to the canal era and railroad development. Get directions at (724) 463-8636 or www.indianacountyparks.org.
Saturday, Aug. 9
Taste the Four Seasons of a Home Grown Garden, with Jodie Seybold and Nicole Dann, from 10 a.m. to noon at Mack Park’s Community Garden. Learn the key times to plant, pick and preserve produce while sampling nutritious recipes for a healthy lifestyle. Register by calling (724) 463-8636.
Saturday, Aug. 16
Mothing 101, with Roger and Margaret Higbee, will be held from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Join Margaret and Roger Higbee for an up-close and personal look at moths, an amazing insect of the night world. Participants will see photos of common moths and then head outdoors to see what moths they can find.
Sunday, Aug. 24
Dragonflies and Their Behavior. by Jim Reber. will be presented at 2 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. See photos taken locally of dragonflies emerging from the larva phase, mating and laying eggs. Enjoy the variety of colorful dragonflies that can be seen in Indiana County. Then take a stroll around Dragonfly Pond to watch dragonfly behavior.
Saturday, Sept. 20
Owl Prowl, with Mike Shaffer, will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Blue Spruce Park’s Pavilion 3. Join the park naturalist to learn about the wonderful owls that prowl the night woods in Pennsylvania. After a short discussion, the group will then go in search of these night-flying creatures to do a little prowling of their own. Bring a flashlight and dress for the weather.
Saturday, Sept. 27
Yellow Creek State Park September Fest will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s beach. Friends of Yellow Creek are holding their fifth annual September Fest. There will be food, an arts and crafts sale, live music, children’s games, mountain bike races, sailboat races, free kayaking and more.
Saturday, Oct. 4
Spiders of PA, by Mike Shaffer, will be presented from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Yellow Creek State Park’s Environmental Learning Center. Learn about the common spiders of Pennsylvania and the two venomous spiders found here. Then take a hike to find spiders in their natural habitat.
Sunday, Oct. 12
Fall Foliage by Boat, with Mike Shaffer, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Yellow Creek State Park’s boat rental (Main Day Use Area). Spend the afternoon on a leisurely tour to see the spectacular fall scenery around Yellow Creek Lake. Seating is limited to 30 people. Registration is required by calling (724) 357-7913.
Sunday, Oct. 19
Autumn “Weed” Walk with Cindy Rogers will be held at 2 p.m. at Blue Spruce Park Lakeside Center. Join Cindy Rogers to find native and alien wild weeds in Blue Spruce Park at different times of the year. For details, see the description for her Winter Walk on Feb. 23. Register by calling (724) 463-8636.