School & Youth Conservation Education Program

Educators

The Blair County Conservation District offers a wealth of educational opportunities through its Environmental Education Specialist, Suzanne Black, and the Conservation District Staff. Suzanne is a Pennsylvania State certified Biology and General Science teacher. Previously teaching Environmental Science, Biology and Agricultural Biology for the Owen J. Roberts School District. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from Juniata College, with a Program of Emphasis in Biology and Education. She provides hands-on learning opportunities for schools, libraries, scouts, and other organizations in Blair County. Lessons are based on current PA Core Standards.

Youth programs include a variety of hands-on activities, experiments, games, and occasionally live animals. Because of the hands-on nature of the instruction, most are designed for one classroom at a time, but some can be adapted to large group audiences. Most programs last about 30-45 minutes, this can also be adjusted to meet the needs and interests of the group.

Each lesson’s objective addresses one or more of the Pennsylvania Standards for Environmental Education and/or Science and Technology.  Standards are indicated under each program description.

In addition to educational programs the District also holds an annual Poster Contest, Land Judging Contest and County Envirothon. The poster contest is an early spring event co-sponsored by the Altoona Water Authority and has a new conservation-related theme each year.  Participation of all local schools at all grade levels K-12 is encouraged. Cash prizes are awarded in 5 different grade groups and all posters are displayed at the Logan Valley Mall as part of Earth Day Celebrations.  Land Judging is hosted by area farmers each October and is open to local FFA’s at the Blair County Level with the possibility for advancement to the State FFA Contest Level. Due to the pandemic and school closures, the Annual Poster Contest was not planned for 2021.  Information will be posted when this program resumes.

The County Envirothon, held each April at one of our County Parks, challenges high school students in a County wide competition on aquatic ecology, forestry, soil/land use, wildlife and a current issue which changes annually.  Open to 5-member teams from public, private, religious and home schools, students vie for the chance to represent Blair County at the Pennsylvania Envirothon state event with the potential to go to the National “Canon” Envirothon.  The Envirothon emphasizes the importance of environmental sensitivity while stressing a need to achieve a social, ecological and economic balance in life.

The District also works with partnering groups and agencies to host “Special Events” throughout the year.  One such event is the Earth Day Celebration at the Logan Valley Mall.  Each year the district partners with sister agencies to offer an extravaganza of activities and entertainment; a highlight being the public Award Ceremony for the annual Poster Contest.

SCHOOL AND YOUTH PROGRAMS

We will explore some of the animals you think are creepy or scary when you think of Halloween,  and you will see they are NOT so creepy, you can be less afraid and maybe even like them!

We will discuss how animals survive during the winter and ways that we can help them in our own back yards.

We will learn about what makes an insect an insect, how pollination works, and how caterpillars turn into butterflies!

Students will learn about turtle structure. They will also learn about different turtles in Pennsylvania and how habitat loss and human interaction is destroying populations of turtles.

Students will learn about soil and the importance of microbes that live in the soil. They will learn how to keep soil microbes healthy so that we can have healthier food. They will play a soil food web game and make a seed ball to take home to plant!

This program has limited availability based upon time and number of incubators currently being used. This program can be completed without hatching live chickens in your classroom.

Students will learn about the parts of an egg and chicken, how chicks develop inside the egg and hopefully hatch live chicks in their classroom!

Let's go on an Adventure

The Blair County Conservation District offers its free program, “Water Festival,” to all 4th grade classes in Blair County public and private schools. “Water Festival” is a hands-on learning program where students travel to at least three different stations described below. The event prepares students for part of the Environment and Ecology section of the PSSA’s. 

The Blair County Conservation District has received funds from the Albemarle Corporation to provide free busing to “Wildlife, Woods, and Wetlands Field Trips” at the Albemarle Nature Trails near Tyrone PA. The program will consist of a series of hands-on learning stations targeted for grades 4-6 and will address PA Academic Standards in Environment and Ecology. Stations will be taught by Conservation District, State Park, and Albemarle staff. In addition to free bussing, the Albemarle Corporation will provide a free pizza lunch for field trip attendees.

Field Trips can be scheduled at NatureWorks Park. Please email sblack@blairconservationdistrict.org to schedule your field trip and to discuss stations. 

An example of a lesson plan and stations is attached:

How do I schedule a program?

Currently, all programs are FREE of charge to any school, home school, library, civic or youth group based in Blair County, and the Conservation Educator will travel to your meeting place.  There is a fee for programs outside of Blair County.   For more information or to schedule a program, email Suzanne Black or call 814-696-0877 ext. 5.

Envirothon

Hundreds of teachers and professionals throughout Pennsylvania guide high school students through this natural resource environmental education program that combines classroom learning and outdoor activities. This exposure to nature and seeing how humans impact the natural world provide invaluable lessons for understanding ecosystems and our environment.

At the Envirothon, teams of five high school students compete in field testing using their knowledge in five topic areas – Soils and Land UseAquatic EcologyForestryWildlife, and Environmental Issues. A current environmental issue is chosen each year as the “hot topic” for the focus of this station as well as the oral presentation component.