Educational Programs

Cook Forest State Park offers a variety of environmental education programs for pre-school through grade 12. Most programs follow the sequence and continuum outlined in the “Activities for Environmental Learning,” a supplemental curriculum developed by the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks.

Programs develop environmental awareness, environmental knowledge and environmental valuing and problem-solving skills at the appropriate grade level. Program length is one to one and a half hours. All programs are free and available April through November.

Curious minds will find lots of other educational experiences in Cook Forest. For example, near the Sawmill you’ll find a one-mile, self-guiding trail which provides information about the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Cook Forest.

During the summer season you can take advantage of “environmental interpretive programs,” presented every Friday and Saturday night (subject to change).

Trail walks are also held during the summer season. A weekly interpretive schedule is available at the park office.

The Park also has a Visitor Center in the former Log Cabin Inn in the main picnic area. Featured at the center are specimens of the various types of trees found in the park, including trees marked with ages which were determined by counting the growth rings.

To schedule a program or obtain more information, contact Dale Luthringer, Environmental Interpretive Technician at Cook Forest State, 814-744-8407. Recommended group size is 15-20 students.

Cook Forest State Park Programs

Using the Senses
Students use their five senses to discover the environment around them. Tasks include identifying colors, shapes, textures, smells, and sounds. (Grades K-1)

Investigating Shapes and Patterns
Students discover basic concepts concerning numbers, shapes, patterns, and textures through first-hand discovery of the natural environment. (Grades K-3)

Seasonal Changes
Students examine the environment for signs that show how the changing seasons affect plants and animals and how plants and animals prepare for the different seasons. (Grades 1-3)

Animal Traces
Students discover animal tracks, foods, homes and scat in soil, forest and water. Discussion centers on why animals choose specific areas for their homes. (Grades 1-3)

Energy Flow: The Sun to You
Students investigate through educational games and discussion the sun’s energy and how it is used and transferred by all living things. (Grades 4-6)

Investigating insects
Students examine different types of insects, their adaptations, life stages, and interrelationships with other plants and animals to determine the role of insects in the environment. (Grades 4-6)

Exploring Freshwater Communities
Students discover the inhabitants of a pond or stream, aquatic animal adaptations, construct food chains and food webs. (Grades 4-6)

Birds and their Adaptations
Students examine bird study skins for adaptations and discuss adaptations and habitats of birds observed during field observation (Grades 4-6)

Animal Adaptations
Students examine animal adaptations and discover how adaptations help the animals survive in their habitats. Through direct examination and gaming, students explore both structural and behavioral adaptations. (Grades 4-6)

How Many Animals Live Here?
Students estimate a population of animals (grasshoppers) found in an area using the capture, mark, release, and recapture population estimate method (Grades 5-12)

Group Problem Solving
Students are introduced to the problem solving process through a series of tasks, which stress group communication, cooperation and problem solving skills. Grades 6-12)

Soil Investigations
Students investigate several different aspects of the soil community and discuss why they are relevant to other features of the environment. (Grades 7-12)

Forest Investigations
Students develop skills in collecting, recording, and interpreting data about the forest. (Grades 7-12)

A Land Use Simulation
Students participate in a simulation activity concerning land use in a hypothetical community, then analyze what was done and relate this to local environmental issues. (Grades 7-12)