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 McKeever Environmental Learning Center to Mark 30th Anniversary 



May 19, 2003

CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine (724) 738-4854;  e-mail:



           SANDY LAKE, Pa. -- With a new retreat center for adults completed and more children attending earth-centered programs, McKeever Environmental Learning Center celebrates its 30th anniversary June 18-19 with a series of wildlife programs, concerts and an evening campfire. All activities, including a folk concert, are free.

           Nature activities include a morning bird walk, programs on black bears, rattlesnakes, birds of prey, tree identification, wildflowers, as well as a 5-K race and sing-along at the campfire. Meals will be sold in the dining hall on June 19, a Saturday.

30 years of outdoor programs

           Administered by Slippery Rock University, McKeever is a public service institute of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

            Seventy-fivemiles north of Pittsburgh, McKeever’s 205 acres provide an educational setting for experiencing and exploring connections with the natural world. Teaching environmental stewardship to children remains its primary mission. Every year, close to 4,000 children from across Pennsylvania attend outdoor programs there.

“It’s a real magical place,” says Director Fran Bires. “It’s the programs. It’s what happens to people when they’re here. It’s the magic of our forest. It’s the magic of the activities that folks are involved with here. It’s the people.”

New retreat center

            The purpose of the new retreat center – two of 10 on site buildings -- is to offer adult groups, businesses, college/university departments and non-profit groups an overnight retreat site for staff conferences, workshops or business meetings, Bires says. 

    Each of the two houses is equipped with five semi-private bedrooms, kitchenettes and dining room tables and chairs made from Pennsylvania oak. Each house has a geothermal heating/cooling system and energy efficient lighting.

 Here is the schedule:


June 18

7 p.m. Pennsylvania black bears, Gary Alt

8 p.m. Song for the Earth Concert, Jim Scott                                                    

9:30 p.m. Nightwatchers * (by reservation only)

June 19

7 a.m.  Bird walk                                                                                                     

8 a.m. 5 k Race                                                                                                        

 9 a.m. Children's concert, Jim Scott

10 a.m.

         Mushrooms of McKeever

         Touch The Earth

         Eating at the Crossroads

         Backyard Habitats

11:30 a.m. Timber rattlesnakes, Matt Wilson

2 p.m. 

         Tree Identification

         Micro Parks - McKeever staff

         History of Rocky

         Basin Green Cleaning Products

3:30 p.m.

         Hardwood Lumber Grading

         Critters in the Stream


         Wildflowers of McKeever

5 p.m. Birds of Prey, Earl Schriver                                                             

7:30 p.m. Evening Campfire of Stories, Songs and Skits

#PN, PR, PgN



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