Jennings Environmental Education Center
|Jennings Environmental Education Center|
|Pennsylvania State Park|
|Natural Monument (IUCN III)|
One of the few prairies in Pennsylvania is found at Jennings Environmental Education Center
|- elevation||1,197 ft (365 m) |
|Area||300 acres (121 ha)|
|Managed by||Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources|
|Website : Jennings Environmental Education Center|
Jennings Environmental Education Center is a 300-acre (121 ha) Pennsylvania state park in Brady Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania in the United States. It is 12 miles (19 km) north of Butler on Pennsylvania Route 528. The center contains a relict prairie of 20 acres (8.1 ha), the only publicly protected prairie ecosystem in Pennsylvania. Big Run, a tributary of Slippery Rock Creek, flows through Jennings Environmental Education Center, and it shares a border with Moraine State Park to the south.
Jennings Environmental Education Center was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its Bureau of Parks as one of "Twenty Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks".
The main purpose of Jennings Environmental Education Center is to provide environmental education for the citizens of Pennsylvania and specifically the students of the nearby elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. Jennings stays busy offering hands on opportunities to these students and their teachers with a "discovery and problem solving" approach.
Prairies are extremely rare in Pennsylvania. They are usually found further to the west in Ohio, Indiana and across the midwest to the Rocky Mountains. The prairie at Jennings Environmental Education Center is the only protected prairie ecosystem in Pennsylvania. It provides a habitat for plants that are unique to prairie and the endangered massasauga rattlesnake. Jennings Environmental Education Center was the first state park established to protect an endangered plant, the blazing star.
This first humans arrived in the Jennings Environmental Education Area nearly 15,000 years ago. These paleo-Indians followed the receding glaciers at the end of the ice age in pursuit of wooly mammoths and giant ground sloths. It is believed that overhunting the mammoths and sloths lead to their eventual extinction.
The Iroquois settled in the area and began to farm the land by the end of the 16th century. They used fire to open areas for farming. This may have helped to sustain the prairie environment that is currently at Jennings Environmental Education Center.
European pioneers from the Thirteen Colonies and New France passed through the area and used the Venango Path an Indian trail, portions of which have since been paved over by Pennsylvania Route 528. The trail extended from Pittsburgh to Franklin. It was used by a historical figures such as Tecumseh, Marquis de LaFayette and George Washington.
The area was not heavily settled until the 1800s. The first settlers cleared the land of its standing trees and began farming. The land was not ideal for farming and soon people looked for other uses of the land. They discovered coal and the mining of coal became a booming industry in Western Pennsylvania.
Jennings Environmental Education Center is named for Dr. Otto Emery Jennings. He was a renowned botanist who searched throughout Pennsylvania for unique plant species. He discovered the Jennings Prairie in 1905 and was instrumental in the purchase and protection of the area by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (it became a "nature reserve" in 1952). Dr. Jennings ensured that the area would be protected for the enjoyment and future education of many generations of Pennsylvanians. Jennings Environmental Education Center was established in 1979.
Nearby state parks
- Maurice K. Goddard State Park (Mercer County)
- McConnells Mill State Park (Lawrence County)
- Moraine State Park (Butler County)
- "Jennings Environmental Education Center". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. August 30, 1990. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
- "Find a Park: Twenty Must-see Parks". Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2011-11-26. Note: Despite the title, there are twenty-one parks in the list, with Colton Point and Leonard Harrison State Parks treated as one.
- "Jennings Environmental Education Center". Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2006-12-11.
- "Find a Park by Region (interactive map)". Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
- Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Research, Geographic Information Division. 2007 General Highway Map Butler County Pennsylvania (Map). 1:65,000. ftp://ftp.dot.state.pa.us/public/pdf/BPR_pdf_files/Maps/GHS/Roadnames/butler_GHSN.PDF. Retrieved 2007-07-28. Note: shows Jennings Environmental Education Center
- Michels, Chris (1997). "Latitude/Longitude Distance Calculation". Northern Arizona University. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
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