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Penn State Mont Alto embraces its forestry roots with festival

October 25, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

MONT ALTO, Pa. -- The Pennsylvania State Forest Academy opened more than 100 years ago. Now known as Penn State Mont Alto, the campus still is embracing its forestry roots.

Mont Alto held Fall Fest & Forestry Day on Saturday, bringing a mix of woodsmen, families and young adults -- though some fell into all three groups -- to the campus to help raise funds for student organizations.

"Fall Fest is a tradition that goes way back -- I don't know how many years," said Kim Hoover, interim associate director of student affairs. "It celebrates the (fall) season and shows our roots from when we were a forestry academy. Fall Fest has taken on many different forms."

Dozens gathered on the lawn, ignoring the steady rain that fell from the sky to participate in forestry exercises -- wood chipping, ax throwing and sawing. One never had to look far to see a logging competition or a "Kiss My Axe" T-shirt.

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"We started as a national forest academy, and we're still like that today," said Donna Rhodes, coordinator of student organizations and programs. "Since campus opened, there have been national competitions. We tried to bring it back."

The event returned after a short hiatus. Rhodes was hired to her position in July, and said she wanted to find the best way to help students raise funds while also embracing the community.

"The person before me didn't want to do it anymore, but I thought it would be good for the students and the community," Rhodes said.

There seemed to be something for just about everyone. The Multipurpose Activities Center housed various Halloween-themed activities, including wax hand molds, pumpkin painting and old-time photos, which allowed visitors to dress in antique clothes and pose in front of a Wild West backdrop.

People also could guess the weight of a pumpkin, enter drawings to win prizes or enjoy different fall treats, all presented by Mont Alto students.

"We had a lot of families with two and three kids come in. They could weave through and participate as they want," Rhodes said. "It was nice to see the college students doing something like this because any money that is made will go to student clubs and organizations."

Rhodes was a bit concerned that the wet weather might turn some people away -- either under the assumption of cancellation or the aggravation of slippery roads and chilly air. The turnout was helped by an open house that was held on campus, which brought about 200 people.

Not surprisingly, many of the young, curious souls couldn't help but wander to the festivities.

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