COOKSBURG, Pa. (EYT) – The Seneca Rocks Audubon Society (SRAS), in partnership with the Penn State Extension Master Gardeners and the Clarion County Conservation District, presented the workshop Gardening for Birds and Pollinators at the Sawmill Center for the Arts in Cooks Forest Saturday, June 24.
[Pictured above: Sponsors and speakers for the Gardening for Birds and Pollinators workshop included Hannah Bequeath (Clarion Conservation District), Connie Schmotzer, Laura Jackson, Roxanne Swan, Alice Thurau (president of Seneca Rocks Audubon), and Missy Dolecki (coordinator of Master Gardeners of Clarion and Venango Counties)].
Article by Ron Wilshire
A large crowd attended the workshop that was postponed during COVID.
The educational program had three speakers, and the concentration was on gardening with native plants to attract birds and pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, to your garden. In addition, bird walks with Michael Leahy were conducted before and after the workshop. Nationwide attention has been given to avoiding non-native plants that do not help and may harm birds and pollinators. Planting native plants can also reduce the need for chemical use in the garden.
The first speaker, Connie Schmotzer, spoke on converting your suburban yard to a native paradise. Schmotzer retired from Penn State Extension as Consumer Horticulture Educator and worked as a naturalist with the National Park Service in Wyoming. She concentrated on gardening with native plants to attract pollinators. She shared her experience of converting her suburban yard of ½ E into three rain gardens, a small woodland, and meadow gardens with over 200 species of native plants. You could create a roadmap for your gardens from her information and ideas.
Roxanne Swan is an Environmental Botanist and Horticulturist with the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania and coordinates the Audubon Center for Native Plants in Fox Chapel. She is responsible for promoting, propagating, and caring for native plants in their nursery and providing educational programs about native plants and rain gardens. With 30 years of experience in the Green Industry, she gave participants the survival strategies plants use to attract pollinators for seed production and a functioning ecosystem. She enlightened the group about a large variety of pollinating insects and how to use native plants to support this large group of pollinators.
Laura Jackson is a retired teacher of advanced placement biology and environmental sciences. Upon retirement, she became the director of the Bedford Environmental Center from which she retired in 2012. Laura and her husband, Mike, donated a conservation easement to Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 2010 to preserve wildlife and forest on their 120-acre property south of Everett. Laura provided the participants with information on planting native plants to attract a wide variety of birds to their gardens and environs and provide an environment for the birds to raise their young.