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‘Gardening for Birds and Pollinators’ Workshop Set for June 24 at the Cook Forest Sawmill Center for the Arts

Friday, June 2, 2023 @ 12:06 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

Cardinal perched (1)COOKSBURG, Pa. (EYT) – Four local conservation organizations have sponsored a “Gardening for Birds and Pollinators” workshop on Saturday, June 24, at the Cook Forest Sawmill Center for the Arts.

The goal of the workshop is to raise awareness of the importance of native plants and to encourage the public to incorporate native plants into their backyards to benefit nature.

For those who are not familiar with native plants, they are plants that naturally existed in a particular region before European settlers arrived. There are more than 2,000 types of native plants in Pennsylvania, including trees, shrubs, vines, and perennial flowers such as Eastern Columbine, Black-eyed Susan, Bee Balm, and Blazing Star.

Native plants are generally easier to grow, less expensive to maintain, and require less water and no fertilizer.

In addition to those advantages for humans, native plants provide food and shelter for birds and pollinators, who often prefer native plants over non-native ornamental plants introduced into this country.

Paulette Colantonio, one of the organizers from Seneca Rocks Audubon, stresses that native plants are genuinely worthwhile planting because they’re so beneficial to birds, helping them to survive.

Alice Thurau, also of Seneca Rocks Audubon, states that gardeners and nature lovers attending the workshop will come away with many ideas, specific tips, and great inspiration.

The three workshop speakers will inform the audience about converting a lawn into a lovely native garden, choosing the right native plants, and attracting more pollinators and birds.

Connie Schmotzer, Penn State Extension Coordinator for Pollinator Certification and with 30 years of experience with native plants, will show how she transformed her suburban yard into a “native paradise.” Roxanne Swan, Horticulturalist for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, will present “Supporting Pollinators of Native Plants.” Laura Jackson, Vice-President of Juniata Valley Audubon, will share how she has planted native shrubs, trees, and flowers around her rural property to attract and support more birds. Her presentation is “Birds in My Garden.”

Michael Leahy, a guide for Seneca Rocks Audubon, will lead an optional bird walk from the Sawmill Center for the Arts from 8:00-8:45 am before the workshop. He’ll lead another optional walk in the Forest Cathedral after the seminar at 1:30 pm. Both walks are open to the public.

The workshop begins at 8:55 am and ends at 12:30 pm. Registration is $20. Paper registration (deadline June 15) is available on the Seneca Rocks Audubon website here. More details and online registration are available through Eventbrite here.

The co-hosts for “Gardening for Birds and Pollinators” are Seneca Rocks Audubon Society, Clarion Conservation District, Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Clarion County, and Cook Forest Conservancy. Each of the co-hosts will have information tables at the event.

Questions can be emailed to

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