People get in touch with nature at Earth Day

April 24, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Courtney Singley, 8, had a close encounter with Cher on Sunday at Renfrew Park in Waynesboro.

It wasn't Cher the legendary recording artist, but rather Cher the 14-year-old ball python who draped herself around Courtney's neck.

Courtney, who said she wasn't scared at all, ranked her time with Cher as one of her best experiences at Renfrew Institute's Earth Celebration Day.

"I turned a passion into an educational thing. Reptiles have gotten a bad reputation," said Lori Penrod, owner of Traveling Tails.

Children visiting Penrod's exhibit of snakes, lizards and reptiles were told that the animals depend on their owners for a good home and cannot be neglected, Penrod said.


Courtney seemingly learned something about her favorite member of Penrod's clan - the bearded dragon.

"I hear they're really well-tempered and vegetarians. It eats dandelions, though," she said.

Courtney examined rocks with Ian Skroban, 8, of Waynesboro and Quintin Barvinchack, 9, who is Courtney's classmate at Nancy Grayson Elementary School in Shippensburg, Pa.

The children learned how to wash the rocks using slivers of paper, and Quintin purchased 33 rocks for his collection.

In the park's smokehouse, Mike Mowen of Waynesboro displayed his extensive mineral collection through the Franklin County Rock and Mineral Club. His collection glowed when exposed to various wavelengths of light.

The "glowing rocks" exhibit was a big draw for children attending Renfrew's celebration, Mowen said.

"They go crazy over them," Mowen said.

Approximately 90 percent of the minerals came from Franklin, N.J., where miners first noticed the splashes of color, Mowen said.

"It's now known as the fluorescent mineral capital of the world," Mowen said.

One of the organizers of Renfrew Institute's Earth Celebration Day, Melodie Anderson-Smith, said about 300 attended the afternoon's festivities.

"The whole idea is to have local groups celebrate Earth Day," Anderson-Smith said. "I think people truly care and want to come out and show their support."

Excluding one year, Renfrew Institute has held similar celebrations since 1990. It added a Festival of Art this year, she said.

In addition to work by professional artists, children's artwork hung on clotheslines strung between trees at the park. An exhibit by Fairview Elementary School kindergartners detailed the things trees give us, including wood, medicine, syrup and shade.

Renfrew Institute honored Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., resident Lester J. Stone with its first Environmental Artistry Award.

"We planted a tulip poplar in his honor. We also honored the environmental exhibitors who had been here 10 years or more," Anderson-Smith said.

Those exhibitors were the Antietam Girl Scout Neighborhood, Franklin County (Pa.) Planning Department, Penn State Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, Population Connection, Long's Tree Service and long-time event organizers Chris and Beth Firme with Keystone Trails Association.

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