Scholarship awarded to Haley Sanford

Haley Sanford was the recipient of the 2021 scholarship provided by KECA and Seneca Resources. Pictured (from left) is Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA) Director of Development Jeff Gauger, KECA board member Bob Bolt, KECA Conservation Education Coordinator Ben Porkolab, Sanford, Seneca Resources representative, Stakeholder Relations Trey Miller, KECA CEO/President Rawley Cogan and Seneca Resources representative Jeff Passerello.

BENEZETTE — The Keystone Elk Country Alliance organization and its dedicated staff are known for offering several educational programs for students and adults to take advantage of.

KECA hosts an internship program with Penn State DuBois geared toward wildlife technology students. There are currently six interns working at the Elk Country Visitor Center, said Conservation Education Coordinator Ben Porkolab. Students gain two college credits by doing so, receive help with gas mileage and a lot of experience.

Porkolab said people can also take educator workshops for professional development. One in the month of November was about turkeys, for example.

“This is one way (for educators) to gain Act 48 credits. It provides them with a lot of new ideas about the things that we’re teaching about,” he said.

KECA also offers a $1,000 scholarship each year, in partnership with Seneca Resources, for Pennsylvania high-school seniors going to college for something wildlife/conservation/education related.

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Educational programs are also hosted at the ECVC each weekend, such as “elk basics,” and programs about other wildlife like deer, moose and owls, to name a few. An apple-cider-making class was held in October as well.

“We are very busy with education here, and proud of it,” Porkolab said.

Earlier this year, KECA also received a $100,000 grant for developing an outdoor classroom, said Director of Development Jeff Gauger. The overall vision for the classroom is for it to be used for conservation education purposes using technology in an outdoor setting.

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