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To help the public develop a growing awareness and appreciation of our natural world, environmental education programs have been developed within the Allegheny County park system.
Three nature centers, at Boyce Park, North Park and South Park, and an Environmental Learning Center at Harrison Hills Park, are providing programs and facilities which offer many different types of environmental education opportunities for people and groups of all ages and interests year round.
Education programs are available for the public, school, scout and private groups. Interpretive programs let people get out into the natural world and observe it in action. Basic environmental research can be conducted at each facility.
675 Old Frankstown Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15239
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Contact Horticulturist/Naturalist Tammy Watychowicz at (724) 733-4618 for environmental education information, activity scheduling/requests or volunteer conservation project opportunities (i.e. "Friends of the Nature Center," eagle scout projects).
The Environmental Education Center is located near the Administrative building and ski slopes of Boyce Parks' 1,096 acres in Plum Borough.
The Nature Center "mini museum" displays geology items, fossils, bones, mammal, insect, plant, bird, reptile, amphibian exhibits, observation honey bee hive, as well as a few live animals; educational posters, botanical drawings and bulletin board display info.; small library area; dried flower, herb and seed collections; park nature photos, trail maps and a diversity of habitat-ecosystems!
The addition of a greenhouse, located near the nature center, provides the opportunity for horticulture all age programs and projects. This botanical resource as well as the nature study center is accessible for physically/mentally challenged all age individuals.
Free nature art programs, horticultural therapy activities, guided tours and interpretive nature walks for all ages are offered year 'round! School, scout club and other "special" groups program, activity and project requests can be scheduled. The Nature Center is open during scheduled programs.
Habitats available for nature/research studies and sensory awareness: fields, meadows and forest land. Planted habitat sites include: herb, native plantings, gardens, butterfly, bee/bird-wildlife landscape areas, flowers-perennial, wildflower and cultivated gardens; medicinal/Native American garden; bog/wetland site; special group gardens and historical/memorial arboretum and reclaiming wetland sites!
There are several forest and cross country ski trails available for outdoor educational and recreational activities! Four nature study, one "special" historical; beginners and advanced orienteering courses and many cross country ski trails are located near the Boyce Park Nature Center. (Park grounds are open dawn til dusk.)
Additionally, the Boyce Park Nature Center staff offers activities at other Allegheny County Parks, including:
Deer Lakes Park: Nature Explorations
Winter through Autumn studies for all ages and walks can be scheduled. Visit the lakes, forest and field sites. Come test your "nature detective" skills! Special wetland habitats await your exploring senses!
Harrison Hills Park: Nature Adventures
Year 'round all age programs and nature walks available. Natural history and traditional lore discovered and discussed in the many "pieces" of ecosystem including: a section of the Rachel Carson trail; farm lake; meadow and unique forest dwellings.
Hartwood: Ecology Excursions
Seasonal environmental events conducted for children and adults including hiking on the trails of historical grounds. View the cultivated flower gardens of summer and take time to appreciate the magestic trees year 'round!
North Park: Marshall Island Botanical Tours and Projects
Plant, living creatures 'Isle tours and gardening projects during the Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons. The "Wildflower/Wildlife Habitat" surrounded by a lake attracts several species of birds, insects and other animal and plant life as well as encourages the environmental gardener. All ages welcome!
White Oak Park: Nature Outings
Four seasons, pre-school to seniors activities, nature tours offered. Interesting tales and environmental interaction presented and explored in the various "living" places of the Park's pathways, field and woodland habitats. Awaken your creative senses with a visit to Angora Gardens. Call (412) 675-8556 for special activity details.
Harrison Hills Park
Environmental Learning Center
5200 Freeport Road
Natrona Heights, PA 15065
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The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) in Harrison Hills Park is open and free to visitors every Saturday (10 am - 2 pm) and Sunday (1-4 pm). The ELC can be made available at other times by appointment.
Visit to see mounted wildlife and fish, fossils, arrowheads and handmade arrow, painted carved bird replicas, bird nests, bird eggs, mushrooms and mushroom products, nature art including outstanding photographs of flowers and birds, posters of Western PA’s trees, birds, reptiles, wildflowers, and much more.
Bird watch at our feeders from inside the building or outside. Experience our “Touch and Feel” table with snake skins, antlers, cow hide, feathers, bark, turtle shells, and seed pods. Outside you can watch the Butterfly Garden attract butterflies, moths and bees. Bring a picnic lunch and eat at one of the picnic tables.
The Friends of Harrison Hills are looking for volunteers for the Environmental Learning Center. If you can volunteer a few hours a month, please call (724) 224-4102 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone is qualified to help in some way and training sessions will be available.
Latodami Environmental Education & Nature Center
575 Brown Road
Wexford, PA 15090
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Contact Naturalist Meg Scanlon at (724) 935-2170 for information about environmental programs and volunteer opportunities available through North Park's Latodami Environmental Education Center.
Created in 1970, Latodami offers a variety of programs, both on and off site, to explore and investigate the wide diversity of habitats and wildlife found in North Park and other areas of northern Allegheny County.
The Nature Center is 250 acres, which include field, forest, pond, wetland and stream habitats with a series of marked trails to guide the visitor. Several trails (grass base) are wheelchair navigable. Grounds are open from dawn to dark.
The building provides the rustic setting of a turn-of-the-century dairy barn. There is a large open air auditorium where large groups can be accommodated and local plant and animal displays are found. There is also a small heated classroom for cold weather activities. The building is open during scheduled programs.
Special features of the Latodami Nature Center include: meadow and grassland ecosystems, bluebird/tree swallow trails, two tree nurseries, outdoor honeybee hive and indoor observation hive, four wetland sites, farm pond, mature woodlands, successional stage field/forest habitats, butterfly/hummingbird gardens, greenhouse, demonstration compost site, observation blind, observation deck, tree trail, boy scout field site, three deer exclosures, Barn Owl Barn, an orienteering/compass course, and 13 nature trails with many that interconnect and with two trails that connect with outside trail systems, one to Pine Township's trails and one to the Harmony Trail.
Brochure titles and guides available through Latodami Nature Center include:
- Pond Trail Guide
- Bees and Honey
- Maple Sugar Making
- Crow's Trail Guide
- My Tree Detective Notebook
- Animal Coloring Book
- Retiles of North Park
- Amphibians of North Park
- Bird Checklist of North Park
- Birding in Western Pennsylvania
- Trails of North Park Latadami Nature Center
- North Park Girl Scout Cabin Nature Trail
- Trees of North Park, Mammals of North Park.
Latodami is allways looking for individuals who are interested in the out-of-doors. We have many projects that need your talents and enthusiasm, whether it is one time, frequent or special involvement such as for schools or scouts. Field research, habitat improvements, art work, teaching or program development are some areas that need your help.
South Park, PA 15129
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Contact Naturalist John Doyle at (412) 835-0143 for more information or to pre-register.
The South Park Nature Center is located adjacent to the South Park Fairgrounds on the southern edge of the park. The 1800's-era building, once a one-room schoolhouse, houses various displays and artifacts reflecting the natural environment of Western Pennsylvania. The Center offers a year-round schedule of Natural History programs utilizing the many resources of the park, including the Game Preserve, several streams, as well as over twenty miles of trails winding through acres of beautiful woodlands.
The South Park Nature Center offers a wide variety of events that run the gamut from cross-country skiing to star gazing and bird watching. The South Park Nature Center also offers programs at Round Hill Park and Settlers Cabin Park.