On Centre: Centre Region | “Wings in the Park” uses fun to educate

On Centre: Centre RegionJuly 17, 2014 


    What: “Wings in the Park”

    When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Snetsinger Butterfly Garden at Tom Tudek Memorial Park, 400 Herman Drive, State College

    Info: Sponsored by Penn State Extension Master Gardeners with participation from Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, the Center for Pollinator Research, the Frost Entomological Museum, the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society, Centre County Beekeepers Association, Discovery Space Children’s Museum, State College Bird Club and ClearWater Conservancy

As anyone with a green thumb knows, it can take a while to cultivate a garden. But with patience and time, it will blossom and grow.

And, over time, the Penn State Extension Master Gardeners’ “Wings in the Park,” which started seven years ago with a few volunteers and three card tables, has blossomed into quite a buzz-worthy event.

Each year, the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden at Tudek Park in State College is crawling with dozens of volunteers and hundreds of visitors for a “celebration of butterflies, blossoms and bees.”

Dress up as your favorite pollinator Saturday and march in the Pollinator Parade. Participate in a scavenger hunt, decorate a caterpillar cookie or have your picture taken with a colorful critter.

But it’s not all fun and games.

The goal is “to educate the public about the importance of pollinators,” Master Gardeners outreach coordinator Doug Ford said. “But it’s also to get people to understand the benefits of planting pollinator plants at their homes and businesses.”

So, in addition to lots of fun activities for children, there will be educational talks and plenty of information about planting for pollinators. Oh! And each attendee will be given a milkweed plant to get that pollinator garden growing.

It’s the Master Gardeners’ biggest annual event, Ford said, and the planning began in the early spring. That’s what happens, though, when something is cultivated — it grows.

Seven years ago, about 50 people visited those card tables. Last year, about 500 people — many wearing antennae — swarmed the event.

So, be a part. Get a close look at observation bee hives, explore the Monarch Maze, contribute to the Monarch Mosaic. And take home a pollinator plant — along with the knowledge to help cultivate a habitat in your own backyard.

Alison Boston can be reached at 235-3902. Follow her on Twitter @AlisonBoston.

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