The Preserve is proud to announce the continuation of Thursday Night Nature. In the same vein as our popular Winter Lecture Series, the Preserve will host a guest lecturer 7 pm - 8 pm every Thursday night for eight weeks beginning April 6. Using easy-to-use Zoom webinars, these virtual lectures will feature an impressive list of experts from across the country.
Thursday Night Nature – Spring 2023
Admission: $15 per lecture (members $12 with discount code)
Admission: $105 for the full series (members $84 with discount code) - this option is only available before the start of the series.
So kick back, relax and join the Preserve from the comfort of your couch and turn your screen green with Thursday Night Nature.
To see and register for the full lineup, click here, or for individual program registration, please select the program title below or find it on our website listed under Talks, Walks and Lectures.
April 6: Restoring the Land Together, Joyfully: One Response to the Climate Crisis with Paige Menton
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” When asked how a person should respond to the climate crisis, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe responded, “do anything!” Locating her compass north between these two points, Paige Menton founded Journeywork in 2022, a nonprofit organization based in Gwynedd, PA, that helps neighborhoods, schools and congregations—anyone with a lawn—to replace turf with native plants. In this talk, Menton will discuss her inspirations for this journey from both her home state of Alabama and the work of Doug Tallamy. She will describe the participatory model that Journeywork is building of community members helping each other to create biodiverse habitat on private land.
Paige Menton, a former elementary school teacher with an MA in environmental education, has been growing flowers and food for over twenty years. She took David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet as a call to action and founded Journeywork to offer people hopeful, energizing ways to respond to climate change together. She has a permaculture design certification, has taught gardening to children for several years and is the caretaker at Gwynedd Friends Meeting. Having grown up in the Cahaba River watershed, Menton now lives near the headwaters of the Wissahickon and enjoys birding.
April 13: Landscape Renewal, Enhancement and Diversity with a Touch of Flare - The Bower: Native Plant Landscape and Sculpture Park with Bill and Jane Allis
This presentation captures the conception, design, current state of plant establishment and stewardship of a native plant landscape and sculpture park—The Bower—as told by the founders, Bill and Jane Allis. Beginning in 2018, this “rural renewal” enhances and diversifies a 36-acre property situated in the Ridge and Valley ecoregion of the Northern Appalachian range in Shermans Dale, PA. Large native plant gardens, shrub drifts, enhanced natural meadow and savanna habitat, a series of small constructed wetland pools and forest combine gracefully with significant sculptures, providing visitors an immersive experience. Stewarded organically, with renewable energy and limited staff, The Bower opened in 2021—free by appointment only—and continues to develop with evolving visitor enhancements and public programming. The project was recently awarded one of the Preserve’s 2023 Land Ethics Awards.
Bill Allis retired as an environmental engineer for Gannett Fleming, an international consulting firm, in 2018. As a designer, project manager and business leader, his practice focused on large municipal civil infrastructure. Beyond his current role as The Bower’s co-founder and manager, Allis is engaged in landscape scale conservation and enhancement as a board member and the stewardship committee chair of the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy. He lives full time at The Bower—his homestead of almost 50 years.
Jane Allis completed a 40-year career as an early childhood educator and administrator in 2016. Her career highlights include education program development and serving as project manager for the land acquisition, consultant selection and design build of The Londonderry School—one of the first LEED accredited school designs in Pennsylvania. Beyond her current role as The Bower’s co-founder and manager, Allis is engaged as a property holder in a public and private pilot conservation project: the Catoctin Stewardship Initiative in Maryland. She also serves as chapter president of the Wild Ones of South-Central Pennsylvania. Jane lives full time at The Bower—her homestead of almost 50 years.
April 20: Birding 101: Tips and Tricks for Beginning Birders with Pam Newitt
If you have always wanted to try bird watching—one of the fastest growing hobbies out there—but didn’t know where to begin, join naturalist Pam Newitt for a fun, informative evening that will help you get started. We will cover observation skills, field markings, behavior, song identification, bird feeders and seed. We will also explore the pros and cons of field guides versus using an app, as well as binoculars
Pam Newitt has a B.S. in wildlife conservation from the University of Maryland, has been a professional interpretive naturalist since 1989 and is a long-time active presence at the Preserve. She loves walking woodland trails, looking up for birds and down at wildflowers.
April 27: Collaborating with Nature: A Botanical Art Garden Grows at Herrontown Woods with Steve Hiltner
Years of institutional neglect had left the first nature preserve in Princeton, NJ, unusable—its trails overgrown, historic buildings boarded up and the parking lot a staging ground for crime. Ten years ago, three volunteers formed the nonprofit, Friends of Herrontown Woods, and began clearing trails and cutting invasive species. When storms blew down a pine grove next to the parking lot, the Friends saw an opportunity to create something special. Without a budget, invasive growth was quelled, paths grew and a forest opening took shape, now home to 150 native plant species. Artists helped combine nature and culture to create a place of whimsy, beauty and discovery. This is a story of persistence, serendipity, incrementalism, combining physical work and intellect to build a community through stewardship. The Barden has become a place to learn about and collaborate with nature—the most generous and creative force of all.
Steve Hiltner has degrees in botany and water quality and has founded and led two nonprofits: a watershed association in Durham, NC, and the Friends of Herrontown Woods in Princeton, NJ. He has planted and maintained prairies in Michigan and wetland gardens in North Carolina floodplain parks. In Princeton, he has restored habitat, converted detention basins to native wet meadows, performed ecological assessments in preserves and has written over 1500 posts at PrincetonNatureNotes.org. Hiltner is also a professional jazz musician and composer who has written and performed climate change theater.
May 4: Pennsylvania's Big Trees: Who They Are, Where They Are and Why They Are Important with Aaron Greenberg
Throughout the history of Pennsylvania and the region, big trees have played a major role in our ecology, economy and social lives. The Pennsylvania Big Tree Register of the state’s Champion Tree Program is a catalog of over 2,000 of the state’s largest trees. In this talk, Aaron Greenberg will use examples from the Big Tree Register to show “who” the big trees of today are—what species have reached truly massive proportions and where they can be found from the Urban Forests of Southeastern PA to remnant old-growth forests preserved in the western part of the state? We will also discuss why big trees are important, the environmental, social and economic benefits of retaining big trees and how these benefits compare to new plantings.
Aaron Greenberg is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist and an enthusiastic planter and steward of trees. He is the Arboretum Manager for Laurel Hill, a pair of historic Philadelphia-area cemeteries that combine to form a single 265-acre Arboretum with over 6,000 specimens. Greenberg also serves as the State Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Champion Tree program, a Pennsylvania Forestry Association program that catalogs and verifies the largest trees of each species in PA.
May 11: Secrets of Butterfly Gardening: What Do Butterflies Really Need? with Mary Anne Borge
What are the best plants to attract butterflies to your garden? Can you have a butterfly garden if you have shade? What other conditions do butterflies need to thrive? Learn the secrets to a successful butterfly garden.
Mary Anne Borge is a naturalist, photographer, author and educator. She is the editor of Butterfly Gardener Magazine, a naturalist and instructor at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and a Pennsylvania master naturalist. She is the team leader for Lambertville Goes Wild, a volunteer organization that successfully led Lambertville to certification as a community wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. On her blog, Mary Anne writes about and illustrates with her photography the importance of native plants to all life.
May 18: Disability Equity & Justice Outdoors with Katie Samson
Over the past few years, organizations have re-examined what diversity, equity and inclusion mean. However, thoughts, values and considerations around accessibility have not been included in these conversations. For a person with a disability—be it hidden, visible, temporary, permanent or sporadic—accessing the outdoors can feel frustrating and exclusionary. Join Katie Samson, accessibility and inclusion educator and speaker, as she discusses her experience as a wheelchair user in nature. Learn how people can become better allies to support an equal and just environment for everyone.
Katie Samson is an educator, disability self-advocate and storyteller who actively engages in Philadelphia arts and culture. She is the director of education at Art-Reach, a non-profit organization that advocates for and expands accessible opportunities in the arts so the full spectrum of society is served. For 20 years, Samon was the spokesperson for KSF, a grassroots foundation created to support research studies and quality of life for people with spinal cord injury. She serves on the advisory board of Thomas Jefferson University, Department of Occupational Therapy, the board of directors for World CAFÉ Live and Team Sunshine Performance.
May 25: From Donora to East Palestine: Lessons in Toxicology from the Steel Valley with Kimberly Garrett, Ph.D.
Pollution events highlight concerns about how chemicals interact with our bodies, environments and social systems. Pennsylvania has had its fair share of environmental pollution affairs, and recent episodes—like that of the train derailment in East Palestine—continue to raise public awareness and concerns. Learn about environmental poisons, how to study them, prevent pollution and assess risks in your own environment through the story of PA history.
Kimberly Garrett, Ph.D., is an environmental toxicologist and a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern University in the interdisciplinary PFAS Project Lab. She earned a B.S. in environmental science from Allegheny College, and both a Master's of Public Health and a Ph.D. in environmental and occupational health at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work examines connections between chemical contaminants, communities and social structures.