Riverbend Environmental Education Center
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August 2015
A Message from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,


It has been a tremendous summer here at Riverbend! It was our busiest season on record with an average of 82 campers attending our Summer Exploration Camp each week for 12 weeks. What a joy it is to witness children playing, learning and having fun in nature every day at Riverbend.
 
We have also been busy with several capital improvements to our preserve this year. In addition to the refurbishment of the boardwalk and Charles Lieberman Outdoor Classroom, the aquaponics greenhouse, and a new roof on the Snider Barn, we are now preparing for the construction of a picnic pavilion with a composting toilet to be added this fall.

October 17th
4:00- 9:00

Shiverfest is Riverbend's most entertaining night of the year, with visitors enjoying a fun, family friendly event with engaging activities sprinkled throughout our site.  Halloween is the prevailing theme with pumpkin decorating, a trick or treat trail, and gazing at the stars after our costumed visitors have trekked the infamous Haunted Trail or enjoyed the animal shows. 

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Upcoming Public Programs

Play is Natural
September 27th
2:00-4:00
Escape the crowds of the papal visit and come explore with us! Play is good for everyone, so join us for nature playtime complete with stream stomping, hill rolling and fort building.  The outdoors is a great place to explore and enjoy as a family.  

Shiverfest
October 17th
4:00-9:00 pm

Owl, Bats & Toads... Spooky or Not?
October 24th
10:00 am- 12:00 pm
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Year Round
Camp Dates

Camp doesn't end when the summer does! Flexible and low-key, our school holiday camp program meets the needs of busy parents while providing children the perfect place for holiday fun.

 


Upcoming camp days:
  
September 
14th, 15th & 23rd

October 12th

November 3rd & 25th
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Be a Part of Our Family!

 

Neill Family Riverbend Builds Memories for Two Generations of Neills

Some families just can't get enough of Riverbend! Take parents Amanda and David Neill and their two sons Michael (age 5) and Gabriel (age 3) who enjoyed Riverbend Summer Camp. David has fond memories of taking field trips to Riverbend as a young boy. 

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Teachers Dig in at the Inquiry Science Institute

For one week every August, teachers become the students as they explore the natural world with Riverbend and the Franklin Institute.  This year twenty elementary teachers from the School District of Philadelphia participated in the Inquiry Science Institute and learned how to actively engage their students in inquiry science.  

From learning how we learn with a look at our brains to practicing observations skills at Bartram's Gardens to creating investigations of invertebrates at Riverbend, the teachers gained skills, knowledge and comfort in teaching science to their students. Read More...
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Meet the Man Behind the Greenhouse: Mike Barcus
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you learn about Riverbend?
I was born and raised in Lower Merion and returned to the area after college. I own a consulting firm and currently live in Bala Cynwyd with my wife and two daughters, 9 & 12. I reconnected with Riverbend five years ago when my oldest daughter visited on a school field trip. This triggered hikes together, birthday parties in the barn and sharing our love of nature together. I have been working with Riverbend for the past year on the planning and construction of the greenhouse aquaponic system and am currently responsible for the ongoing management. 

In your spare time, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy being outside most of all. I've been a lunatic fisherman my whole life, spending most of my free time waist deep in the surf or on a stream. The past few years I have spent more time in the forest, exploring our local resources and learning about the uses and medicinal values of our local native plants.I'm also an avid gardener and am currently taking a course in permaculture design.
 
What excites you about Riverbend's Aquaponics Program?
The most exciting aspect is the number of students who will be exposed to aquaponics and the valuable concepts of sustainability and environmental stewardship. It's been a lot of fun this summer at Riverbend, having campers and visitors stop into the greenhouse, learn about aquaponics and ask some of the best questions ever! It's a great teaching tool in addition to being a productive sustainable agricultural technique.
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Lisa Hancock Joins Riverbend as the New Director of Development

 

Lisa joins Riverbend with over 15 years of experience as a nonprofit professional for various organizations, most recently as Development Director of the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls, a grant-making and education foundation.

 

Before coming to Riverbend Hancock began her non-profit career in conservation and environmental education with service on the Board of the Valley Forge Audubon Society followed by nine years directing membership and communications for Montgomery County Lands Trust, now merged with Natural Lands Trust. Read more

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Eco Activity for kids: It's Time to Prepare!

Leaves changing, cooler temperatures, and less sunlight are all signs that summer is coming to an end in the natural world. For many animals this is a signal that winter is approaching and it is time to prepare! Some animals have to prepare for hibernation, some for migration, and some need to prepare to outlast the winter right where they are! One such animal that stays active all winter is the Eastern grey squirrel
 
Background Information: To prepare for the long, harsh, cold winter ahead, squirrels spend their fall season collecting seeds and nuts, burying them in holes for safekeeping. This is called scatter hoarding. Squirrels will cache or store over 10,000 nuts and seeds each fall! When winter comes with its cold weather, snow, and lack of food, squirrels use their strong sense of smell and powerful memory to retrieve their nuts even under a foot of snow! When squirrels are looking for cache sites for their nuts, they have to hide their caches well enough to be hidden from other animals like crows, raccoons, and blue jays who might steal them. Yet they need to remember where they stored their nuts!
 
Let's Play!  Read more...

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Behind the 'Bend
What in the world is this? It's a closeup of our aquaponics greenhouse fish ready to eat! These fish are an essential part of the aquaponics system and help nourish the plant water.