Family Field Day at Laurel Hill State Park

Family Field Day at Laurel Hill State Park

On June 23, Mountain Watershed Association and Laurel Hill State Park Rangers held the first Family Field Day at Laurel Hill State Park. 

This family-friendly, outdoor event, which was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Education Grant, was free and open to the public. Along with organizing several education programs throughout the park, MWA also provided transportation (along with Quest Coach, a local transportation company from Scottdale) and bagged lunches for families who were unable to supply their own. 

Even though the weather was forecast to rain, over 100 people from the greater Pittsburgh area took advantage of this free, community event! 

The Field Day was held at the Willis Pavilion at Laurel Hill State Park, near the beach swimming area. Activities were dispersed along the crushed-limestone Copper Kettle walking trail that runs along the lake. 

Families checked in and got a quick orientation at the pavilion, which was the site for several activities (conveniently located under a roof in case of bad weather). Kids made colorful shirts at the tie-dye station, learned about aquatic mammals, practiced building a beaver dam, and used a fun, sensory activity to learn why bird species have different types of beaks. 

Down the hill from the pavilion, Hazelbaker’s Boat Rentals was open. This was one of the most popular activities of the day, with 74 people choosing to paddle around the lake in canoes or kayaks!

At the far end of the lake, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission provided a fishing clinic, with rods, bobbers and hooks for anyone who wanted to catch a fish. 

Further down the Copper Kettle Trail, park rangers and volunteers from the Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps Americorps used arts and crafts supplies to help kids “Fashion a Fish” in the Laurel Learning Lab.

Nearby, there were two super-popular stream life activities in Laurel Hill Creek! Upstream of the foot bridge, MWA staff demonstrated how to collect and analyze macroinvertebrates (bugs, worms, crayfish, etc.) in the water. 

A few feet downstream of the bridge, Laurel Hill State Park Rangers taught participants how to go “river snorkeling” in the creek. Using diving masks and snorkels, or clear-bottomed buckets, the kids got a close-up view of underwater life in its natural habitat! 

In between all these activities, MWA’s executive director Ashley also led a guided nature hike into the Hemlock Forest. Hikers loved exploring this beautiful native ecosystem. 

Participants had a fantastic experience playing in and around the water, whether they stayed all day or popped in for just a couple hours! MWA staff and volunteers were overjoyed to give our local families an opportunity to interact with the aquatic environment! 

If you attended and had a great time, all of the educational materials at the event are also available to borrow in our Outdoor Resource Library at our office in Melcroft! Come visit us and plan your own outdoor adventure!