Wild Notes Winter 2011 edition
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Winter 2011

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Cosmo the flying squirrel

 


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Many visitors to Erie, Pennsylvania stop by Presque Isle State Park for an hour or a day, enjoying the scenic views of Lake Erie and the recreational opportunities available there. To help educate these visitors about the important ecological and historical significance, The Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) was created. This 65,000-square feet "green" building located near the entrance of the park is home to a variety of environmental non-profits and government agencies, an impressive natural history museum collection, over 7,000-square feet of interactive, educational displays and a Big Green Screen movie theater.

Keeping such a large, well-attended building running smoothly is not always an easy endeavor.  TREC relies on a strong volunteer group to man the information desk, lead tours and raise funds for new educational exhibits. The Friends of the Tom Ridge Center is the official name of this 501(c)3 non­profit group. The Friends' mission is to develop partnerships between the private sector and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources the organization that manages Presque Isle State Park — in order to create educational programs, enhance natural history research and provide high quality visitor services that will ensure that TREC is nationally recognized for years to come.

The Friends of the Tom Ridge Center were a huge help to WRCP during the planning stages of the 2008 and 2010 Wild Resource Festivals, which took place at TREC. The Friends Group provided significant funding and advertising for both festivals. With their support, these events were a huge success — reaching over 1,000 people each time.

What does the Friends' Group have on their plate for the coming years? Educating youth and adults is one of their primary goals. Working with DCNR and the PNC Foundation, the Friends of TREC are implementing the PNC Grow Up Great with Science program. The goal of this $100,000, two-year grant, is to improve the quality of science teaching for low to moderate income children in the greater Erie area. The Friends are also working with a master's student at Edinboro University on a film about the coyotes of Presque Isle. You can follow the student's progress through her blog.

Because the Friends of the Tom Ridge Center is a non-profit organization, they depend on donations for much of their work. When people give to the Friends' Group, the interest from the endowment is used for a variety of projects like: transporting school students to TREC, funding teacher workshops, paying for new educational exhibits and purchasing research equipment. To learn how you can help the Friends of the Tom Ridge Center, please visit their website at www.friendsoftrec.org. If you plan on visiting Erie, Pa. in the near future, join the more than 500,000 visitors that have already visited the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. More information can be obtained by calling 814-833­7424 or visiting their website at www.trecpi.org.



Presque Isle State Park is located on a peninsula along the southern shore of Lake Erie.
(Photo: Jessica Sprajcar, DCNR)


The Tom Ridge Environmental Center—located in Erie, Pa.— is home to educational displays, a movie theater, food court and offices. (Photo: DCNR)


WRCP Executive Director, Greg Czarnecki, and retired administrative assistant, Teresa Witmer, greet guests during the Wild Resource Festival at TREC.

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Pennsylvania Wild Resource Program