Education is a key element of the Arboretum’s mission. The Arboretum serves public education through its signage, informational brochures, and interpretive tours, and also through children’s educational programs designed and coordinated by one of our staff members. We play both active and passive roles in the University’s resident education programs, and dozens of instructors use the resources of the Arboretum each year.
The Avian Education Program was endowed by an anonymous donor for the purpose of increasing awareness and appreciation of birds and promoting the conservation and creation of bird-friendly habitat. Members of an advisory committee help to develop bird-related programs for people of all ages and to coordinate educational efforts with environmental agencies and organizations throughout the community.
Activities include bird walks, seasonal bird-banding surveys, and indoor and outdoor lectures and workshops. The dates for these activities are available on our Events Calendar. The program has also produced the Arboretum Bird Checklist brochure, which is available at the Overlook Pavilion literature rack. Outdoor activities are staged in the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens and in the more distant portions of the Arboretum near Sunset Park. Indoor activities are conducted in the Forest Resources Building.
For more information about the Avian Education Program, please contact:
Dr. Margaret Brittingham
Professor of Wildlife Resources
The Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden opened on July 7, 2014. The design of the garden affords a landscape that is rich in educational content and one that rewards exploration and discovery. During the summer and early fall our adult garden guides welcome and greet children and families and we offer informal garden interpretation activities and tours. Our activities are designed to encourage inquiry-based learning about the beauty and diversity of our regional landscape, native plants, and creatures.
A kaleidoscope by Robert Anderson and donated by David and Linda Witmer, delights visitors. One can spin the bowl and twist any of the three eyepieces to change the shapes and patterns.
We hope you can visit Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden often to enjoy the outdoors, learn together, and discover the natural world. Throughout the garden, native Pennsylvania plantings and natural limestone and sandstone boulders and walls evoke the local landscape and tell our region’s geological story. Animal sculptures depict many familiar (and a few unfamiliar) native species. Spotting the real live wildlife visitors in our garden makes every visit an adventure!
Because our garden guides are not on site this summer, we would like to share some of the on-site activities and educational resources that can help guide your exploration and help everyone have fun while learning. Several of them were designed to complement each other or to stand alone.
Please note: The garden may be visited from dawn until dusk. We ask that you practice social distancing and wear a mask to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Thank you!
— This checklist includes all birds that have been known to occur within the Arboretum and when they are likely to occur within the Arboretum at various times of the year. Visitors are encouraged to participate in citizen science by entering their checklist information at http://ebird.org.
–Visitors can use the table in this document to identify all 16 animal sculptures in our garden.
–There are many interesting rocks in the botanic gardens. This one-page document contains photos to help find them.
–Read facts about the two species of wild rabbit in Pennsylvania, and enjoy some rabbit-themed activities for children and families (pp. 6–7)
Artists Profile Pages – See individual links below.
–In addition to biographical information about nine artists whose works are in or near the children’s garden, these individual profiles provide insight and inspiration for ways that love of nature can be communicated through art. The Animal Sculpture Scavenger Hunt can be used in conjunction with these profiles of the sculptors to enrich your discovery walk.
Creature Features – See individual links below.
–These colorful, two-sided documents present both scientific facts and fun facts about thirteen of the animal sculptures in the children’s garden. They also complement the Animal Sculpture Scavenger Hunt because they provide information about the real animals represented by the sculptures.
–This guide for high school students and adults presents resources for teaching about local and regional water issues by using the water-related features in The Arboretum at Penn State. Key concepts are highlighted (page 11). Included are case studies that show the impact of pollution on local waterways. Suggestions for activities to help students understand what they have learned in the Arboretum are provided (pp. 12–13).
For more information and educational resources about our watershed, visit The Spring Creek Watershed Atlas, a public outreach and educational service of the The Spring Creek Watershed Commission: https://www.springcreekwatershedatlas.org/.