– The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation recognized the Promised Land State Park’s Nature Arts and Crafts Program volunteers for its exemplary environmental programming for children, awarding the group its 2014 Education Award.

The Nature Arts and Crafts Program is one of Promised Land’s most popular programs, and has been volunteer-run for more than 30 years.

The free program is presented weekly from the last Wednesday in June through the last Wednesday in August. Through crafting, the volunteers not only teach children how to paint, draw and sculpt, but also how to reduce, reuse and recycle.

“The lack of opportunities our youngsters to explore, respect and enjoy nature is of great concern to us,” said volunteer group leader Ginny Loughlin. “Through arts and crafts, our team of dedicated volunteers endeavors to encourage a love for the great outdoors."

The group of 25 volunteers donated over 3,100 hours of time from fall 2012 to fall 2013. In the last few years, the attendance at the weekly program has increased, with an average of 135 participants each week (with approximately 90 children).

“Research has shown that art creation is an affective as well as effective tool to further enrich, enhance and enlighten the nature experience for young people,” said PPFF president Marci Mowery. “It is impressive to ponder the number of children reached and the natural connections grown through this program.”

Volunteers in the program rogram include Mae Allam, Kim Allen, Samantha Cohen, Alex Coppola, Beverly Hartje, Anna Jacoby, Jen Linsenbigler, Rochelle Linsenbigler, Carrie Loomis, Bev and Hank Puhl, Marie and Jim Putt, Faye Reed, Donna and Devon Rinaldi, Carol and Dick Schield, Janet Willchock, Melanie Williams, Emma Winagle, and Retta and Tad Zumpone.

The Nature Arts and Crafts Program volunteers were honored at PPFF’s eighth awards banquet on May 6 at the West Shore Country Club in Camp Hill.

For more information visit paparksandforests.org.