Earth Day observed at Donald J. Comes Natural Resources Learning Center

In observance of Earth Day, Monday, members of the Donald J. Comes Natural Resources Learning Center on Route 46 South in Norwich Township planted a Japanese Lilac tree in memory of Comes, who passed away in March 2017. Participating in the event were Rob Dickinson, client relationship manager for Penn State Extension Area 2; Richard Putnam, master gardener coordinator, horticulture, Penn State Extension; Don Tanner, volunteer at the Comes Natural Resources Center; “Butch” Schaffer, who along with his wife, Jackie, owners of Lost Sock Laundry in Port Allegany, donated the tree; and Chris Ernst of E&M Engineers and Surveyors, who has provided pro bono engineering support services since the center project began.

SMETHPORT — In observance of Earth Day Monday, committee members of the Donald J. Comes Natural Resources Learning Center planted a Japanese Lilac tree in memory of the founder, who passed away in March 2017.

In 2012, Comes donated his 41-acre family homestead to Penn State Extension for the purpose of providing youth and adults with learning experiences in renewable natural resources through hands-on demonstrations, study sites, interpretative trails and educational programs.

Since 2012, Penn State Extension, with help from the McKean County Master Gardener Program, McKean County Conservation District and many other community members and partners, has successfully completed the Phase 1 development of the center, which includes signage, master gardener demonstrations and community garden activities, stormwater management structures, parking lot and trails.

In conjunction with Earth Day 2019, Phase 2 is now underway with a proposed outdoor classroom. The initial sitework for the classroom is complete. E&M Engineers and Surveyors produced the classroom’s design prints that show the 30 x 60 feet structure.

A portion of the structure will be a pavilion, while the rest will be an indoor classroom, complete with restrooms.

E&M has worked closely with Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant to meet compliance requirements.

Through fundraising during Phase 1, the center was able to meet the needs associated with start-up.

Another fundraising campaign is slated to be held during Phase 2 to raise the anticipated $300,000 required to build the facility, while meeting all regulatory standards.

People who would be interested in volunteering at or donating to the center should contact the Penn State Cooperative Extension at 814-887-5613.

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