SINNEMAHONING – The open house event at Sinnemahoning State Park on Aug. 10 introduced more than 350 park visitors to the new exhibits at the Wildlife Center. The event was held to showcase the new facility and explain how the new exhibits are designed to enhance the park visitor’s wildlife watching opportunities in the Pennsylvania Wilds region.
The interpretive exhibits, an integral part of the new Wildlife Center, were designed and installed by Taylor Studios Inc., an interpretive planning, design and fabrication firm from Rantoul, IL. Taylor Studios specializes in assisting museums, nature centers, and zoos in creating high-quality exhibits.
Betty Brennan, president and owner of Taylor Studios Inc., attended the open house. “It was a lot of fun watching the families, as they experienced the exhibits here at Sinnemahoning for the first time,” Betty said. “It is good to see that all the work and planning that goes into a project like this pays off with every visitor experience.”
The design concept of the Wildlife Center aims to generate excitement and encourage exploration of Sinnemahoning State Park and the Pennsylvania Wilds. This is accomplished through a rich variety of exhibit types that appeal to multiple learning styles – immersive environments, multi-media experiences, murals, sculptural elements and interactive exhibits.
The First Fork Valley is an important travelway, linking the natural, cultural, educational and recreational resources of the Pennsylvania Wilds. This travelway theme is present throughout the building. In the lobby, a winding topographical map model leads visitors toward the exhibit gallery, introducing the steep valley topography of the region. Bird models and an impressive swarm of monarch butterflies trace the shape of the map, subtly presenting the concept of migration. Visitors walk through a rockwork gateway to enter the exhibit gallery, from there following a winding path through a series of themed environments.
Wildlife watching, nature photography and outdoor recreation are prominently featured in the new exhibit gallery. Inside the bark shanty, visitors can use the interactive display to learn about the history of the First Fork Valley. Links to special sights and activities in the Pennsylvania Wilds are present throughout. As visitors leave, the last exhibit element they encounter is an interactive Pennsylvania Wilds map with multiple suggestions on what else to explore in the region.
But the new exhibits in the Wildlife Center are not for adults only. A cave, a hollow tree, an eagle’s nest, and many other hands-on exhibits allow the youngest visitors to learn about nature in their own style. Marah and Luke Fowler loved the bear cave. “We had so much fun today,” they said.
The open house event offered an informal, fun way for families to view the exhibits for the first time. Nellie and Brandon, of Lilly commented, “The exhibits look great. We were here last year and a lot has been added. We love it!” Bobby of Johnstown summed it up simply, “The Wildlife Center in amazing. Thank you so much.”
Sinnemahoning State Park is a 1,910-acre multi-use park in Cameron and Potter counties with overnight facilities and year-round recreational opportunities. The park offers camping, cabin rental, picnic pavilions, environmental and outdoor recreation programs, trails for hiking, biking and snowmobiling, and the 145-acre George B. Stevenson Reservoir for fishing, kayaking and canoeing. Sinnemahoning is also popular for viewing wildlife such as bald eagles and elk.
The Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park is free of charge and open to the public from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. seven days per week from April 1 through Oct. 31. For off-season hours, please contact the park office located in the Wildlife Center at 814-647-8401 or on the web at www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks.