Students from Venango County schools tested their knowledge in natural resources during the 2023 Venango County Envirothon competition held at Two Mile Run County Park on April 21.
About 35 students from Cranberry, Oil City, and Rocky Grove high schools attended this year’s event. Students competed as part of a five-member team, with seven teams participating. Three teams represented Cranberry, while Oil City and Rocky Grove sent two teams each.
This annual environmental education event focuses on exposing young adults to various natural resource topics that are taught by their teachers and local environmental professionals. They study forestry, aquatic ecology, wildlife, soils and land use, and a current environmental issue. This year’s current issue topic was “Adapting to a Changing Climate.”
Hosted by the Venango Conservation District, the competition was accompanied by an “Envirothon Training Day” which was held at Two Mile Run County Park on March 24. Students were presented with information about each topic by local agency representatives including the PA Fish & Boat Commission, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
On testing day, the students rotated between stations which tested their knowledge on wildlife identification, aquatic macroinvertebrate classification, forest management techniques, among others.
One of the Cranberry High School teams advised by Lauri Piercy, took home the first-place title. Named the “Tunnel Rats,” the team consisted of students Dalton Wenner, Colin Zerbe, Dane Ley, Dan Wenner, and Kelsey Hannah. Also from Cranberry, the “Hellbenders” team took second place, and the “Predators” team from Oil City High School finished third. The “Tunnel Rats” will travel to Camp Mount Luther in Mifflinburg, PA on May 24 to represent Venango County in the 40th annual state Envirothon competition.
The “Tunnel Rats” team from Cranberry High School placed first overall at the Venango County Envirothon competition at Two Mile Run County Park on April 21. They will be representing Venango County at the state Envirothon competition on May 24 in Mifflinburg, PA. Pictured left to right: Dalton Wenner (9th grade), Colin Zerbe (12th grade), Dane Ley (12th grade), Dan Wenner (10th grade), and Kelsey Hannah (10th grade).
The staff at the Venango Conservation District is so happy to be back to working from our office beginning in June of 2021. It was not easy being away, but during our time of working from home, the VCD Board of Directors and staff were busy working on securing a new home.
Two Mile Run County Park has been very generous over the years in providing us office space on the Park. Our office is located at 1793 Cherrytree Road, Franklin PA in a little house that overlooks the boat launch on Justus Lake.
We’ve been happily installed at that location since 2007, but now we’re looking forward to a place of our own. In October 2020, the district purchased the former Happy Tails Veterinary Clinic property. A design architect was hired and a contractor received a bid award to renovate the Clinic building so that we can utilize the space as our office. Once renovations are completed and we are able to move in, the Park can begin to utilize the little house we called a home as a rental space where visitors can stay.
The benefits of this move is to secure a location that is owned by the district. In this way we are less dependent on the County to provide a space for us. The new property at 4871 US 322 includes several garage spaces that will provide secure storage for our large equipment. The new office space is large enough for our staff to grow in the future. There is even enough room to hold meetings and educational programs.
The VCD is grateful to the Park for continuing to offer space for us until renovations are complete at our new property. We hope that visitors to the park who stay at our soon-to-be former office will be as happy with the location as we have been.
The Venango Conservation District is very pleased to announce that two new staff members have been added. Hilary Buchanan has been hired as the district's Dirt Gravel and Low Volume Roads Technician, and Tim Hummel has been hired as the district's Watershed Specialist. Each began their new positions on May 2nd.
Hilary has earned a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Geoscience and has work experience with wetland delineation, NPDES permits and Chapter 105 General and Joint Permits. She also has work experience in water sampling, and ArcGIS work.
Hilary has been off and running since her first day. She has attended new staff training for the Dirt & Gravel Roads program. She has been on project locations most every day in May. She even helped out with elementary education programs.
Tim has earned a Master's degree in Biology. Tim has work experience as a Watershed Project Manager and experience as a field technician. Tim has been busy around the County meeting with local watershed associations and contributing to elementary education programs.
We are so impressed with the work our new staff has progressed with just in the month of May. We are looking forward to the great work these new staff members will bring to our office and to Venango County.
The Venango Conservation District is pleased to welcome Ashley Hazlett as our new Dirt Gravel and Low Volume Road Resource Technician. Ashley is a graduate of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania with a Master's degree in Park and Resource Management and a Bachelor's degree in Marketing with a minor in Management. Ashley has had experience with Natural Resource Education programming.