Discover Nature Day set for May 3

Have a blast! Win cash prizes. Seize this opportunity to touch live snakes, celebrate Smokey Bear’s birthday, explore an inflatable cave, and much more on May 3 at Seneca Rocks Discovery Center.

When you were a kid it was easy to enjoy time in nature you didn’t need anything other than your imagination and the great outdoors. Today, it can be hard to break free and get outside to share that same experience with your family. The Monongahela National Forest, along with several conservation partners, would like to invite you to join in for “Discover Nature Day,” a day focused on the wonders found in our West Virginia forests.

This unique event will be held at the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center and will provide an opportunity for learning, fun and discovery. The day will begin at 10 a.m. with a garlic mustard-pulling competition. You can volunteer to help remove one of the most invasive plants found in the state and possibly win a cash prize – $100 for the person who pulls the most garlic mustard and $200 for the winning team.

“Garlic mustard is a non-native invasive species that crowds out our native plants like trillium, orchids, jack-in-the-pulpit, and even ramps. There is a lot of garlic mustard in our forests, so we’ll need an army of volunteers to help us remove as much as we can,” said Beth Simon, AmeriCorps worker for the Forest.

A tasty lunch will be provided by Seneca Caverns for all of those who volunteer their time to help pull garlic mustard. Lunch will begin at noon and will include a special multimedia presentation about backyard bats by wildlife rehabilitator, Leslie Sturges.

Cynthia Sandeno, ecologist, says, “Bats are fascinating animals that are very important to our environment. But, these animals are in trouble due to a new disease, White-Nose Syndrome, and they need our help.”

Visitors will have a chance to see several native bat species and a close-focus video camera will help you see the fabulous features of these small stars. This wonderful, lunchtime program is suitable for ages 5 through 105 and is sure to be informative.

Following lunch, everyone will have the chance to participate in a series of interactive games and hands-on activities from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. These activities will focus on the natural world and include the opportunity to touch live snakes, learn about butterflies, participate in a “Bug Hunt,” join in a round of “Wildlife Jeopardy,” and see how non-native invasive species can affect our forests, streams, fish, and wildlife.

“We are looking forward to visitors learning more about the Monongahela National Forest and the many natural resources that our forest contains,” said Troy Waskey, Cheat-Potomac District Ranger. “Thanks to the help of our partners, we will be able to host an event that will have something for everyone.”

Whether you enjoy fishing, hunting, gardening, or hiking, you are going to love “Discover Nature Day.” It’s good to get outdoors, plus, Seneca Rocks Discovery Center is a great place to enjoy nature. After the scheduled events are over, you can enjoy a beautiful hike. A self-guided interpretive trail begins behind the Discovery Center and offers the non-climber a way to reach the lofty heights of the majestic Seneca Rocks, and a way to enjoy the view of the scenic valley below.

So unplug from the daily routine and join in on May 3 to reconnect with nature and each other. Grab the kids and start discovering. Officials hope you will join in for part or all of the day.

A special thanks to partners in the event, including the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, Division of Natural Resources, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service, Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area, Trout Unlimited, and Save our Streams, for making this day possible.

For more information about “Discover Nature Day,” contact Beth Simon, AmeriCorps with the Monongahela National Forest, at (304) 636-1800 or