Refreshing Mountain is blessed with a beautiful property complete with woods, a pond and open areas. It was only a matter of time before Nature Studies would join the other activity options offered to retreats, school groups, and families.
The focus of the new nature program is hands on learning and good stewardship of God’s creation. Both kids and adults will have the opportunity to learn about conservation of eco systems, the diversity of plants and animals, and hopefully learn to become more fascinated by nature!
The program features an educational lesson time and an opportunity to interact with the displays in our new nature building. You will also have the chance to spend time with some of our live animals. The live animal exhibits will house both native and exotic reptiles, native bugs, aquatic life, amphibians, and small mammals. Groups will be able to pick between three main lessons: Pond and Plant Life, Reptiles and Amphibians, or Mammals and Birds of PA.
Mark Layton is Refreshing Mountain’s Nature Program Coordinator. Mark has been fascinated with nature, especially reptiles and amphibians for as long as he can remember. He started out volunteering at Woodcrest Retreat’s nature shack at the age of nine and soon had his own collection of over a dozen snakes and lizards. At the age of thirteen Mark was regularly helping his friend Jesse Rothacker who is the president of Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary. Mark would travel with Jesse to help with education programs and help care for the hundred or so reptiles that Jesse owns and has rescued over the years. In 2012 Mark spent over two months in Australia traveling along the east coast. He spent several weeks of that trip in the wilderness exploring and looking for wild animals. One of the highlights of Mark’s trip was being able to catch and handle some of Australia’s highly venomous snakes. Since then Mark has continued to grow in his knowledge of nature and conservation. He is very passionate about teaching others about nature and why it is so important to take care of the beautiful creation God has given us.
Check out the video below to learn more about the program and hear directly from Mark on his heart and passion for sharing a love of nature with children:
It is exciting to see how people, especially kids, get excited about being outside and interacting with nature. For some it might just mean spending more time relaxing on their back porch bird watching and enjoying the sounds of the woods. For others it might mean becoming a biologist and traveling the world studying wild animals. Either way we hope people will walk away from the nature program at Refreshing Mountain experiencing a desire for being out in nature and exploring it more. There is so much to see!
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