The Arboretum at Penn State


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.

Open-top chambers in which ozone levels are lower than in ambient air demonstrate the effects of pollutants.

Open-top chambers have less ozone than ambient air.

The Air Quality Learning and Demonstration Center, located in the northwestern section of the Arboretum, about a 20-minute walk from the Overlook Pavilion, offers educational programs and public outreach about air pollution’s effects on plants of the farm, garden, and field in Pennsylvania. Visitors may conduct a self-guided tour by reading display panels and by viewing research gardens and plant exhibits that demonstrate the effect of ozone on sensitive plant species. There is an air quality monitoring station on site, and a teaching pavilion equipped with audio-visual and Internet capabilities. For more information about the center, or to schedule tours for small groups, please contact:

Dr. Dennis Decoteau, Professor of Horticulture
Phone: 814-865-5587

Northern mockingbird - Photo by Nick Kerlin

Northern mockingbird – Photo by Nick Kerlin

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.

George Archibald Seminar April 3 2019

Spring 2019 Bird Banding and Bird Walk Schedule

2018 Fall Bird Banding Summary Report

Avian Education Program 5 Year Summary – 2010 – 2015

For more information about the Avian Education Program, please contact:

Dr. Margaret Brittingham
Professor of Wildlife Resources
Phone: 814-863-8442

The Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden opened on July 7, 2014, and the theme of our children’s education program in its first two seasons was “Getting to Know OUR Garden.” 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.

Kaleidoscope in Childhood's Gate Children's Garden (April 2016)

Kaleidoscope in Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden (April 2016)

A new sculpture – a kaleidoscope – was installed in the children’s garden in February 2016. The kaleidoscope was made by Robert Anderson and donated by David and Linda Witmer. Visitors can spin the bowl and twist any of the three eyepieces to change the shapes and patterns. On the sculptor’s website is a page with links to videos illustrating similar garden kaleidoscopes.

Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden Interactive Story Map