Environmental Education Programs

An extensive series of nature programs is offered in the Indiana County Parks system by Friends of the Parks. Friends of the Parks is a volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality environmental education programs in the Indiana County Parks system and at Yellow Creek State Park.

Programs are provided through member support and are offered free of charge. All membership funds go directly toward bringing programs to Indiana County. Membership is not required to attend programs.

Some programs require that participants pre-register. The number to call for pre-registration is included in the program listings. Programs typically last 1-2 hours.

brochure featuring a complete schedule, directions to each program location, and a membership form is available in PDF form.

For additional information and updates, check out and "Like" the Friends of the Park Facebook Page.

Directions to Blue Spruce ParkPine Lodge, the Blacklick Valley Natural Area, and the Ghost Town Trail are available here. Visit Yellow Creek State Park's website for directions to programs at Yellow Creek.

Education & Information


Did you know that there are over 900 known species of bats in the world? They actually make up 20% of all of the mammal population on the planet. Bats are also one of the best animals to have around for reducing harmful insect populations!

Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) – This common bat ranges throughout the state in diverse habitats: attics, belfries, barns, behind doors and shutters, hollow trees, in city and country. Big brown bats fly at dusk, and generally use the same feeding grounds each night. They fly in a nearly straight course 20-30 feet in the air, often emitting an audible chatter.

Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) – This bat eats a wide variety of flying insects, including nocturnal moths, bugs, beetles, flies, and mosquitoes. Insects are regularly caught with the wing or tail membrane, and transferred to the mouth. An individual emerges from its day roost at dusk, and usually seeks a body of water, where it skims the surface for a drink, and then hunts insects. The little brown bat makes several feeding flights each night.

For more information about Indiana County’s local bats, check out our Remarkable Bats downloadable PDF!


Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) –  Endemic to North America.  Carapace length 5.5 – 7.9 in with pyramidal pattern on its upper shell.  Range = Nova Scotia (north and east), Minnesota (west)Virginia (south).

Box Turtle (genus Terrapene) – Native to North America (United States/ Mexico).   Are terrestrial members of the American pond turtle family – not members of the tortoise family.  Have a domed shell (hinged at the bottom) allowing it to close its shell tightly to escape predators.

Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) –  Large freshwater turtle.  Range = SW Canada, SE to edge of the Rocky Mountains, E to Nova Scotia and Florida.  Powerful beak-like jaws, highly mobile head and neck (hence specific name serpintina, meaning “snake-like”).

For More Information Download PDF on Turtles.


PLEASE DON’T consume any wild mushroom until you are knowledgeable about the species.

Our annual mushroom hunt has become one of the most popular among the 30-odd programs offered each year. The tradition continued on May 2, 2015, as 75 participants came to Indiana County’s beautiful Pine Ridge Park. The program began with a slide presentation in Pine Ridge Lodge. Bob Sleigh was this year’s expert from the Pennsylvania Mushroom Club. Bob gave valuable tips on how to find Morels peeking out of the leaf litter. (The hunt is far more successful when one knows where to look and exactly what to look for.)

For More Information Download PDF on Mushrooms.


While searching for salamanders it is almost certain that snakes will be encountered; yet I am surprised that I don’t see snakes more often. I don’t actively look for snakes but when they do appear I take time to study them and make note of where they were found.

One question I am asked when I tell people I search for salamanders is, “Aren’t you afraid of finding snakes or getting bit?” Most snakes are reasonably docile, unless intentionally provoked. They often know you are
nearby before you see them. If you give them appropriate space they can be observed from a distance.

For more information Download PDF on Snakes.