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Wings in the Park: Bees, Butterflies and Blossoms to be on Display

by on July 21, 2012 6:00 AM

A community event for the whole family promoting the importance of pollinators and their habitats at the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden habitat will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday at Tom Tudek Memorial Park in State College.

The event will be hosted by Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Centre County along with “Butterfly Bob” Snetsinger. A special butterfly release in remembrance of Robert Tudek will take place at noon.

Saturday marks the third annual “Wings In the Park” celebration. This year’s event will focus on bringing nature into our backyards by showcasing pollinator friendly gardening at home and providing every household a free Pennsylvania native plant. The fun and informative family event kicks off with the first-ever “Pollinator Parade,” where event visitors are invited to come dressed as their favorite pollinator.

Other featured activities include the habitat scavenger hunt, the popular “Shutterbug Booth,” “Caterpillar Cookie” decorating, Monarch tagging demonstration, live observation beehive, exhibits, tours and hands-on activities.

Penn State Extension Master Gardeners and Snetsinger will be joined by Shavers Creek Environmental Center Native Plant Society, the Center for Pollinator Research, Discovery Space and the Frost Entomological Museum, who will have interactive displays and activities to provide information and guidance on establishing pollinator friendly plantings in our landscapes.

The Snetsinger Butterfly Garden is a demonstration garden site of approximately three acres within the Tom Tudek Memorial Park in Ferguson Township. The development of the butterfly garden habitat has been the passion of Dr. Snetsinger, professor emeritus of entomology at Penn State.

Dr. Snetsinger is popularly known as “Butterfly Bob.” Dr. Snetsinger’s mission has been to educate the public about the importance of butterflies as critical components of many ecosystems, many of which are in decline throughout the world.

In honor of Dr. Snetsinger's many years of tremendous passion, dedication and work at the garden, the garden was formally named after him in July of 2011. The garden was a particular love of the Tudek family, which is why the butterfly release will take place at noon.

The Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Centre County in partnership with Dr. Snetsinger develop and maintain The Snetsinger Butterfly Garden habitat as an educational resource. Also, in partnership with the Tom Tudek Memorial Trust, Penn State’s Frost Entomological Museum and Centre Region Parks and Recreation, Master Gardeners provide mentoring in environmental stewardship, promote biodiversity, and offer a number of tours, presentations and educational programs.

Education and Outreach

Over the past five years, Penn State Extension Master Gardeners and Dr. Snetsinger have developed a plan that will ensure the continued enhancement of The Snetsinger Butterfly Garden habitat.

Increased public interest in sustainability and gardening to create and enhance butterfly and pollinator habitats to protect biodiversity and promote environmental stewardship continues to create opportunities for educational outreach at Tom Tudek Memorial Park and other locations throughout Centre County.  

In addition to the “Wings in the Park” event, some of the most successful programs provided by local Master Gardeners include the Community Stewardship and Satellite Garden programs.

The Community Stewardship program involves local organizations and school groups such as the State College High School Wild Dream Team, PA Native Plant Society and Girl Scouts, as well as families and individuals, who work with Master Gardener mentors to explore environmental stewardship practices through hands on experience working an area of the habitat.

Under the guidance of Master Gardeners, community stewards receive direct educational programming, plants for their garden area, and continued support beyond the habitat for their own programs promoting environmental stewardship, biodiversity, and sustainability.

Started just a couple of years ago, interest in the Satellite Garden program has exploded with twelve established gardens at area schools, churches, and local organizations. Master Gardeners work with local groups to help them establish these educational demonstration gardens as a direct extension of the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden habitat.

In the past year alone gardens have been established at Easterly Parkway Elementary, State College Friends School, Mt. Nittany Charter School, Radio Park Elementary, Discovery Space of Central PA, Spring Creek Church and Harris Acres Community Garden. Master Gardeners use these gardens to provide a variety of educational programs for teachers, students and community members.

Of particular importance is the continued development of partnerships with other organizations that are committed to the educational mission of the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden habitat. Penn State’s Shavers Creek Environmental Center, the Center for Pollinator Research, and Arboretum along with the Pa. Native Plant Society and Discovery Space of Central PA are working with Penn State Extension Master Gardeners to expand educational outreach programs locally and throughout the region.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.
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