St. MARYS –The Elk County Conservation District is seizing on the current popularity of “sip” events with a unique crafting project staff hopes will draw a wide range of participants to get involved.

On Feb. 20, at 6:30 p.m., the district plans to host a Conservation Craft & Sip at the Elk Country Visitor Center’s ECCO Building in Benezette.

“It’s challenging to reach a variety of demographics during environmental education events, but it’s important that everyone in our community is conservation-savvy,” district Watershed Technician Stephanie Stoughton said. “I noticed people of my age group, 20 somethings, specifically, were missing from the majority of our educational events. Knowing craft and sip events are very popular among my peers, and wanting to benefit to our local ecosystem, the idea for the Bluebird Box Craft & Sip was born.”

The event will allow participants to build bluebird boxes while drinking wine. Afterward, Pennsylvania Game Commission representative Mandy Marconi will discuss bluebird ecology and how to monitor the boxes.

According to Stoughton, Benezette was chosen as the site of the event because it offers plentiful space to build boxes.

“The Elk Country Visitor Center has a beautiful ECCO Building with a lot of space for construction,” she said. “Plus, the Benezette Wine Shop is just down the hill from the center, making it easy to get wine for the event.”

The boxes will serve a greater purpose once completed.

“Bluebird boxes are simple to construct and an easy way to benefit native species,” Stoughton said. “Boxes should be monitored throughout the bluebird nesting period, so each box requires a degree of interaction from its caretaker. The monitoring helps to foster a connection with nature in a way that doesn’t involve a significant amount of time or leaving the backyard. Plus, it’s always exciting to watch the nesting process and baby bluebird development.”

Stoughton added the event isn’t just the work of the conservation district.

“The event is definitely a group effort and wouldn’t be possible without our friends at the Elk Country Visitor’s Center, Benezette Wines, and the Game Commission,” she noted.

Pre-registration is required for the event by calling 814-776-4609, or emailing Stoughton at sstoughton@countyofelkpa.com. Cost is $15 and includes snacks, a glass of wine and materials to construct a bluebird box.

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