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After 2-year project, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center set to reopen

by on August 29, 2018 4:35 PM

PETERSBURG — After a two-year, $7.5 million expansion project, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center will reopen Labor Day weekend. A celebration is set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, and will continue through the evening with tours, an ice cream social and food trucks, along with music from 7 to 10 p.m.

For those unable to make the grand reopening, there is no need to worry. Shaver’s Creek, located in Petersburg, Huntingdon County, will be open for visitors seven days a week beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2. It also will see the return of its popular festivals , which are open to the public, including fall’s Enchanted Halloween Trail and Festival and spring’s Maple Harvest Festival.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to reopen our doors to all those who have enjoyed and experienced Shaver’s Creek throughout the years,” said Mark McLaughlin, director of Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. “The improvements we’ve made will allow us to better serve Penn State and our local communities.”

The renovations include an enhanced visitors center, including the updated Liztinger Herpetology Center in the Litzinger Discovery Room. With approximately 3,000 square feet of new technology-enhanced space among three classrooms, new administrative and staff office space  and still-to-be-completed new raptor enclosures that will accommodate the 18 birds that live at Shaver’s Creek, the space is a modern upgrade to the old facility.

The rapture enclosures and one of the new classrooms are on schedule to be completed by October. Until then, some of the birds will be available to be seen by the public as the new enclosures are being finished. 

Long a highlight of the center, the new rapture enclosures will provide a better environment for the birds, the public and the students and volunteers who work with the birds. With large, natural settings that mimic the birds' natural habitat, the enclosures provide the public with an excellent view of the raptors.

Raptors have been a part of Shaver's Creek since 1981. The new enclosures for the birds, which include eagles, hawks and owls, are more closely grouped together and are configured to capture sun throughout the day with better visibility, while concrete walls protect the birds from cold north winds.

The new classrooms will give students and the public access to all the technology necessary in today's world, while being outside in natural surroundings. This will allow for research while essentially in the field. 

Located about 10 miles from the University Park campus, the center has been closed since 2016 to update its building and infrastructure. These upgrades are the first major improvements at the facility since it opened in 1976. The original building at Shaver’s Creek was built in 1938 as a forestry lodge for group functions and warm-weather instruction.  

The original lodge remains intact, with the additions built around its framework. It includes the updated Litzinger Herpetology Center, with displays of turtles and snakes, the Discovery Room and a new book store.

Shaver’s Creek serves as a place of learning for not only Penn State students and instructors, but also for the nearly 10,000 visitors who use it during the year. McLaughlin said the improvements will benefit all those who come to Shaver’s Creek, including families and schoolchildren.

“Shaver’s Creek will be able to serve as a nationwide model for environmental centers and university field labs, allowing us to enrich the educational experience,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll now be able to build the future of environmental education and help prepare future generations to make informed decisions and choices that affect the natural world.”

For Penn State, Shaver’s Creek is home to more than 35 credit-bearing courses in six colleges and nine departments.

The center also provides programming to the community and schoolchildren through public festivals, summer camps and the Outdoor School, which twice a year welcomes elementary students from Centre, Huntingdon, Mifflin and surrounding counties for a four-day residential program.

The camp was back in session this summer, and Justin Raymond, Shaver's Creek marketing director, said it was nice to have people enjoying the space again.

“We’re really excited. It’s been quiet the last couple years since we closed and when we had summer camps back this year it was really great to hear children laughing and playing outside," he said. "It’s really nice to get back to people being out here."







Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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