From the colorful autumn leaves to the fresh snow of winter to the budding flowers of spring and summer, discover the beauty and wonder along our trails in every season through this FREE weekly self-guided program. Pick up a nature exploration kit at our Visitor Center and then hit the trails with your family to complete the activities inside. For the months of January and February, past explorer kit themes will be repeated (with the exception of a new Valentine’s Day themed kit on February 13). Two different themed kits will be available each week. Explorer kits can be picked up anytime between 10:00 am–12:00 pm on a first-come, first-served basis. All ages welcome. No registration required. Masks are required when picking up your kit.
For almost 100 years the Roxborough Pumping Station, just above the Flat Rock Dam, was a landmark on the Schuylkill River, pumping water into two reservoirs on high ground to serve the city’s northwestern section. In this illustrated talk, Adam Levine, historian for Philadelphia Water, reveals why the system was built, how it worked, why it was abandoned, and its ultimate dereliction and demolition in 2011. River pollution and flooding, drownings, water filtration, the revitalization of the reservoirs as parkland, and the planned restoration of the canal locks at Flat Rock will also be discussed. Adam Levine has been researching the history of the city’s water system since 1998, and this brand-new talk is not to be missed. His website is phillyh2o.org.
This event is cosponsored by the Philadelphia Water Department, the Upper Roxborough Civic Association, the Roxborough Manayunk Conservancy, the Friends of the Upper Roxborough Reservoir Preserve, and Residents of the Shawmont Valley.
This event is part of #RiverDays a month-long recreational event series hosted by the Alliance for Watershed Education (AWE) of the Delaware River and supported by The William Penn Foundation. AWE is comprised of 23 environmental education centers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Each of these centers is located along a Circuit Trail or major connecting trail, and on waterways throughout the Delaware River watershed.
It’s a cornucopia of questions about nature, wildlife, the environment and all things green– even frogs. Which nocturnal animal plays dead, emitting a putrid smell to escape its predators? What popular nocturnal creature’s droppings can actually be used as a fertilizer? Gather around the computer and vie for prizes in our live Zoom trivia event. First place will receive a pint glass and t-shirt from Twisted Gingers Brewing Company plus a prize from our gift shop. Prizes will also be awarded to second and third place teams. Teams can consist of 1-6 players.
Coyotes, Falcons, and that Bear, Oh My!
How can people and wildlife better coexist in the city? Peregrine falcons nest in St. John’s steeple; bald eagles soar over the Schuylkill. Coyotes run down our streets, turkey vultures roost on the radio towers, and an occasional black bear wades across the Wissahickon. But the needs of these animals and people often conflict, as witnessed by the thousands of creatures brought to our Wildlife Clinic annually.
Join us for this FREE online event moderated by Executive Director Mike Weilbacher
Rebecca Michelin, Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation at the Schuylkill Center
Eduardo Duenas, naturalist-educator at the Schuylkill Center
Bernard “Billy” Brown, the Urban Naturalist columnist for Grid magazine
This program is co-sponsored with Grid magazine.
By Ezra Tischler, Arts and PR Intern
The forest can be a scary place at night. Its unfamiliar sounds reach out from the darkness, telling a nocturnal tale we humans seldom hear. However, the nighttime forest is full of much more than fright. By the light of moon, the forest comes alive. Owls screech and hoot; frogs croak; skunks, raccoons, and opossums forage through the forest floor; bats flap about in search of something to eat. A wondrously active forest is born each night.
At the Schuylkill Center we explore just how amazing, and un-scary, the nighttime forest is with one of our most popular programs ever, Halloween Hikes and Hayrides. Established nearly 30 years ago, Halloween Hikes and Hayrides is now our longest running program ever! Families walk through our candlelit forest in search of educators dressed as nocturnal animals. Each animal—a skunk, raccoon, bat, fox, opossum, frog, and owl—tells their wild night-life story to our guests.
I spent some time last week looking through the Schuylkill Center’s extensive photo archive searching for evidence of the first Halloween Hikes and Hayrides. Though it was difficult to pinpoint the very first Halloween Hike, I was able to find some photos and negatives from hikes dating as far back as 1977. Mike, our director, says he doesn’t remember Halloween Hikes and Hayrides under that name from his first stint at the Schuylkill Center, but it’s clear the tradition is a long one. Halloween Hikes & Hayrides has grown a lot since its inception. One photo shows about a dozen-or-so hikers gathering before heading to the forest. Last year we took to the forest with around 300 hikers in attendance!
Another photo from 1977 shows children enjoying a pumpkin carving session; we won’t have pumpkin carving at this year’s event, but there will be pumpkins for painting–a favorite in recent years. One of the earliest photos of anyone in costume shows our educators dressed as friendly nocturnal animals, it’s dated 1988. I was only a newborn in 1988, but I’m excited to join this year’s Halloween Hike as a costumed educator. More than anything, I can’t wait to see our forest trails dappled in candle light. I hear that alone is worth the price of admission.
Join us on October 24th and 25th for the Halloween Hikes and Hayrides, from 6:00—10:00 pm. Aside from the magical walk through our woods, enjoy a hayride along a woodland road, a campfire and s’mores, and pumpkin painting too. For more information click here.
Ezra joins the Schuylkill Center as an intern in the Environmental Art and Public Relations Department. He is pursuing a Master of Environmental Studies degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Ezra enjoys riding his bike along the Schuylkill River Trail, exploring his South Philly neighborhood, and playing with his Beagle, Homer.
By Shannon Dryden, Nature Preschool Manager and Sweet Gum Lead Teacher
The first few weeks of Nature Preschool have started off with a busy buzz and hum as the two classrooms, Sweet Gum and Sycamore, have filled with children, conversations, artwork, lunch boxes, water bottles, and more. It may seem silly but every September I am reminded how the beginning of the year reinvigorates teachers and classrooms as new personalities come together to build a community. It is loud (as it should be), it is busy (many moving bodies), it is messy (children’s hands at work), it is full of questions, thoughts, and ideas as the pieces of the classroom puzzle are beginning to fit together. Continue reading
By Mike Weilbacher, Executive Director
This piece was originally published in the Roxborough Review on Thursday, September 10 in the column Natural Selections
Saturday, September 27 might just be the biggest day in the Schuylkill Center’s storied 50-year history. On that day, we’re offering the first bird seed sale of the year, the last native plant sale of the year, and launching the University of Nature, a full day of outdoor learning for adults. We’re beginning the day by presenting the ninth annual Henry Meigs Award for environmental leadership to Ann Fowler Rhoads, and ending the day by unveiling a new show in our environmental art gallery.
One big day.
The University of Nature is the latest in a series of new programming thrusts the Schuylkill Center is rolling out. We’re offering university-level expertise in a one-day outdoor setting. Over the course of the day there are nine workshops and walks from which to choose, and you’ll leave at day’s end graduating to a higher level of environmental understanding. Continue reading
By Guest Contributor Angel R. Graham
I had the pleasure of speaking with LandLab artist Jake Beckman over the telephone recently. Jake explained that he is enjoying being a LandLab artist. His LandLab experience allows him to engage himself more with the outdoors, he says, conning him more deeply to the land.
Science and art are really similar in a lot of ways. You have to imagine the unknown.
J.B: I think the thread that ties most of them together is an interest in how things work. What are the processes that cause things to come into existence – things that we use, or part of our built environment, or things that we depend and rely on in society? A lot of [my art] looks at materials and industrial ingredients.
Science and art are really similar in a lot of ways. You have to imagine the unknown.
A.G: Who inspires you artistically?
J.B: That’s a tough question. I read a lot. I am really interested in a wide range of things, popular science to scientific journals to sociological studies…I like work that engages in kind of a dialogue that is accessible. [I like] public work that is playful but also has some sort of critical sense to it. I like work that reaches beyond art and engages with people.
A.G: How did you connect with LandLab?
Jake explained that he received a fellowship through the Center for Emerging and Visual Artists (CFEVA). Since they were aware of his science background, CFEVA let him know about the opportunity to work with LandLab.
J.B: I had been to the Center a couple of times before I ever even heard about LandLab. I just enjoyed the grounds. My wife and I had a garden plot [at the Center].
A.G: What does it mean to you to be a LandLab artist?
J.B: It’s wonderful to be outside, to be thinking about making work in an outdoor environment. You know, I’m really hoping to honor this kind of spirit of engagement with the outdoors that I think the Center is trying to foster by making art that feels like it’s part of that dialogue and part of a process. It is part of this ecosystem, bringing it to life in a different way. I think it’s really been a wonderful change of perspective for me in thinking about my work and I’m really grateful for that. When you make work that lives in this white box of a gallery, things sometimes feel a little claustrophobic. This has been a nice experience to help to balance that and be engaged a little bit more.
A.G: What inspired your LandLab piece?
J.B: The whole overview of the project that I am working on and that I proposed is really based on my investigation into research about soil formation: the way that soils are so important for the ecology of any natural system. They are really unique in a lot of ways. They are not like normal ecosystems that we think of … because everything is happening at such a different scale and a different time period. So you think of geological processes. The project encompasses a lot of those ideas. Two or three pieces that I am thinking of installing over the course of the fall, the winter, and into next spring really look at soil formation through these lenses of time-periods, if you will. One of them is really going to look at the way stone dissolves over time and that is obviously going to be on a different time scale than the one I am making out of wood which will happen over the course of decades or less than that.
A.G: What is your definition of art? What is art to you?
J.B: In some way, it is sort of philosophy made material…and you know art is many things to many different people. What it means to me? [laughs] I don’t know; I think it’s play, it’s serious play. I think some of it is convention and some of it people understand when you call something art, you are giving them license to think beyond what is it, what does it do, how does it work. I think when you call something art, even though it is this nebulous term, it allows for some loosening of boundaries. …It’s kind of frustrating but also freeing, and really fun, how many different disciplines I can borrow from… and then incorporate into [my art].
A.G: What you want people to take away from your work?
J.B: I guess I’m interested in drawing connections between things that we don’t necessarily connect. In my life, I’m not really connected to the land in a way that I feel like I want to be. I live in a city, in a place that is humming with activity, but it is a lot of human activity and a lot of infrastructure and I feel somewhat disconnected [from the land]. I don’t know that my work actually reconnects people or anything like that but I am hoping at some one point it’ll get to that stage where it forms those connections for other people as well as me.
A.G: How does your artwork connect to science?
J.B: Not as much as I would like. I think that science is the process of asking questions, posing questions, and imagining ways to answer to them. It is dealing with … mystery or exploring unknowns. I think frequently my work strives to some small degree, to pose interesting questions and elicit that sense mystery and wonder that I think science has. But I don’t think I’ve gotten there [laughs]. But I think science and art are really similar in a lot of ways. You have to imagine the unknown. You have to be really creative and come up with possible ideas; in science you then go on and test and [in] art you go on and make.
About Angel R. Graham
Angel is currently a student at Mitchell College in New London, CT majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Communications. After completing her undergrad studies, she wants to continue on to grad school where she plans to complete a Master’s degree in Public Health. Angel hopes to become a public policy writer for the EPA or FDA.
On May 31, 2013 The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education presented Beyond the Surface: Environmental Art in Action – A conference of ideas and innovative thinking about the relationships between art and nature.
This unique, first time conference brought over 100 professionals from the region and beyond (as far as Maine and North Carolina) to hear from the Advisory Team about their own individual practices, and then to join them in conversations. Below are each team members’ presentations, for those of you who wish to hear from them directly.
The afternoon sessions were titled “Activate,” Integrate” and “Engage.” Undoubtedly, this one-day conference has sparked ideas and ways forward to attendees from the cultural and environmental communities. We look forward to continuing the conversations.
Below, are each advisory team member’s morning presentations. Each were asked to speak on the work they do, have done, and speak to the issues pertaining to ecological art.
on how she became an ecological artist, focusing on water.
on things that changed his life: Andy Goldsworthy, Deborah Small, Art as part of a system.
on a new kind of art, her own work, and the importance of collaboration and approaches, how artists make nature more visible.
(we are having technical issues here, but please click on link above to watch this video)
see more about Amy Lipton’s work with ecoartspace
on participation, interruption and interaction in her work. Watch her have the audience reflect on their first encounters with nature. See her nine concepts about her practice.
on her work in sustainability, her practice: personal, pedagogical and professional.
This conference was made possible by the generous support of the Pew Center for Arts And Heritage Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative and The National Endowment for the Arts.
Below is the information about our upcoming conference, a large part of this planning project. Online registration is available here!
Beyond the Surface: Environmental Art in Action
Hosted by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
May 31, 2013
Join us for a day of ideas and innovative thinking, investigating relationships between art and nature.
How can environmental art engage the environment and the individual, activate awareness, and integrate perspectives that result in unexpected and innovative approaches to environmental literacy?
While the natural world has captured the imagination of artists for centuries, more and more of today’s artists are thinking beyond the studio, blending art, science and social practice with a fresh sense of immediacy, connecting art to nature and environmental issues. No longer content with scratching the surface of environmental problems, these artists want to move beyond the surface, engaging audiences to become part of the solution.
This conference brings a team of cutting-edge environmental artists and arts professionals to Philadelphia to share this work with you, to discuss ways art can create environmental awareness while restoring ecological systems.
The artists presenting at the conference have been working with these ideas for much of their careers. To call attention to climate change, for example, Eve Mosher painted a high-water line across Manhattan, showing people where the water would rise to if sea-level projections occur. Stacy Levy’s artwork in the Schuylkill Center’s Sensory Garden remediates our building’s stormwater, which had been compromising our own forest. Lillian Ball projected a shifting, multicolored map of the Arctic circle onto a sphere of ice, the ice melting even as the projected image showed a vanishing Arctic.
The Schuylkill Center’s Art Department has brought artists to its 340 acre site since 2001. This year, the Center has gone further, examining how art intersects with other disciplines –education, ecology, architecture, engineering and planning, to name a few, to create fresh innovations and exciting experiences for the public. Our project has brought together an Advisory Team of the artists and curators who work in the field of environmental art. (Please visit www.schuylkillcenter.org/art for more information about this project, the team and to read their blogs).
We believe art can help to repair a broken relationship between humans and nature and simultaneously transform audiences from passive observers of art to active participants in ecosystems.
We are re-thinking how art exists at nature centers, and are eager to share these findings with our colleagues in the art and environmental communities. We welcome artists, educators, environmentalists, scientists, designers, landscape architects, teachers and students of all ages to this groundbreaking event.
Morning Session: 9 am – 12 pm
1. Welcome by Schuylkill Center Executive Director Mike Weilbacher
2. Introduction by Jenny Laden, the Schuylkill Center’s Director of Environmental Art, and Deenah Loeb, SCEE trustee and chair of the Environmental Art Committee
3. Environmental Art Advisory Team Presentations:
Lunch: 1 – 2 pm
Optional site visit: Take aninformal walk throughout SCEE lands with SCEE staff to the pine grove or Penn’s Native Acres
1. Breakout Groups: 2 – 3:30 pm
Afternoon Breakout groups will delve more deeply (guided by members of Environmental Art Advisory Team)
I. Engage Eve Mosher/Amy Lipton
II. Integrate Frances Whitehead/Stacy Levy
III. Activate Lillian Ball/ Sam Bower
2. RainYard presentation by Stacy Levy: 4 – 4:45 pm
Levy discusses rainwater, and creating a permanent ecovention at SCEE.
3. Closing: 4:45 pm
4. Outdoor reception: 5 – 6 pm
Celebrate Levy’s new installation with refreshments in the Sensory Garden.
Conference admission fee $80
Schuylkill Center member discounted admission $60
Students, artists, educators discounted admission $40
Early Registration Special: Until March 31, a 20% discount will be applied at checkout
For more information, call our art department 215 482 7300 x 113 or visit our website: www.schuylkillcenter.org/art
Or email email@example.com