Posts tagged ‘arboretum at penn state’

Some Impressive Pumpkin Carving

On Saturday evening, an hour or so before the Penn State-Northwestern game, I stopped by the Arboretum to check out its first-ever Pumpkin Festival. I figured there might be some fun jack-o-lanterns to photograph, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The last time I carved a pumpkin, I did it the standard way: hollow out the thing, then saw through the front to make some scary/comical eyes, a triangle-shaped nose, and about four teeth. I didn’t know there was any other way.

But the people who entered the Arboretum’s contest are waaaaaaay more creative than I am. There were some very cool jack-o-lanterns on display, including this one, which was judged Best in Show:


Jenny-LeThe creature is a “werecat” (like a werewolf but, well, a werecat instead). As I was photographing it, its creator happened to stop by: Her name is Jenny Le and she’s a senior at Bellefonte High School. That’s Jenny in the photo at left. She says she sculpted the werecat with a one-dollar pumpkin-carving kit she bought at Weis Markets—and, evidently, a lot more talent than I ever showed in high school art class.

The event was a lot of fun; it was held on the lawn of the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens at the Arboretum, and it included free popcorn, apples, and hot chocolate, as well as a chance to stroll around and admire the carved pumpkins. The Arboretum had given away more than 500 pumpkins the previous week, and participants brought back 268 carved entries for judging and viewing.

There was a wide range of designs, from the standard scary-face pumpkins to ones that reflected the interests of their creators (one person, for example, carved the Colorado Rockies’ logo into the face of their pumpkin). There were some renderings of famous people, like Albert Einstein…


…and even Steve Jobs, done by Megan Wu:


(Note the iPod carved into the side of the pumpkin.)

I thought that this 3D rendering of a skull was exceptionally well done, and looked especially cool when lit up:


I have no idea how you would carve something like that. But it’s great.

You can see the full list of winners at the Arboretum’s Pumpkin Festival page, and I’ve posted an album of a dozen or so photos of the jack-o-lanterns on the magazine’s Facebook page. Enjoy!

Tina Hay, editor

October 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm 1 comment

More Birds, Close-Up


The bird-banding sessions that grad student Emily Thomas ’07a, ’09 had been running since the end of August officially ended a month ago, but earlier this week she sent around an e-mail saying that since the weather has been so nice, she’d be setting up the bird nets one more time this morning. The idea was to give interested undergrads in the wildlife and fisheries science major some more experience in capturing, banding, and collecting data on birds—and also to see what species might turn up at this late stage of the migration season.

So I went over with my camera to the banding location at the Arboretum at about 7 this morning and hung out for a couple of hours. It was very cold for the first hour or so: One of the students had a cell phone with a thermometer on it, and it read 20.7 degrees at one point. (more…)

November 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm 2 comments

A Weekend with the Birds (and the Bird Banders)


A tufted titmouse, freshly banded by the Penn State crew.

I know this past weekend was Homecoming and all, but I spent most of it thinking about birds. I mean, I watched the football game like everyone else, but … well, let’s not talk about that.

On both Friday morning and Sunday morning, I got up extra early and headed out to the edge of the Arboretum at Penn State to meet up with grad student Emily Thomas ’07a, ’09 and a small group of undergrads—all of them from the wildlife and fisheries science program—to watch them band birds.

I had seen a bird-banding operation once before, on a trip to Alaska, but that was a brief encounter. I thought it would be fun to hang out for a longer time, see a lot of different birds, and take a lot photos. And I was right: It was quite cool.


Emily Thomas fits the bird with an ID band using special banding pliers.

The way bird banding works is this: The volunteers stretch big “mist nets” (sort of like badminton nets, only much taller and longer) in various sites, then wait for birds to accidentally fly into them (more…)

October 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm 11 comments

Wedding Bells at the Arboretum

The Arboretum is quickly becoming one of my favorite spots on campus, and it’s easy to see why in this photo, which the Arboretum’s Cathy Kennedy sent us. Specifically, this is the “Rose and Fragrance Garden,” which is, obviously, in full bloom. I can attest that even when it’s not at its peak, the garden is a wonderful spot to curl up and read a book on a sunny weekend afternoon.

I’ll stay away this weekend, though; Cathy says the first wedding in this section of the Arboretum is scheduled for Saturday. It’s not the Arboretum’s very first wedding—that happened earlier this month—and these two are just among the first special events in a setting that’ll probably get more popular over time.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

May 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm 2 comments

2010 Senior Class Gift: Arboretum Boardwalk


Sketch of the proposed boardwalk

And the winner is … The Arboretum at Penn State.

Voting for the Class of 2010 senior gift ended Monday, and the overwhelming choice was the Marsh Meadow Boardwalk and Overlook at the Arboretum. The final totals, announced Tuesday: 1,965 for the boardwalk, 435 for a public sculpture and endowed sculpture, and 418 for an endowment to maintain the HUB Aquarium.

The seniors have pledged $19,000 so far, and they’re continuing to raise money. You can get the specifics at the blog.

The bloggers at Onward State thought the options could have been spiced up; they suggested “a massive statue of Joe Pa in the mountains overlooking Happy Valley in the fashion of Rio De Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer,” which obviously would have significantly increased the buzz around the tradition. I can only imagine what the College GameDay crew would have done with that.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

October 28, 2009 at 6:03 pm 1 comment

A Tough Choice: Voting for the Senior Class Gift

The Allen Street Gates, when Allen Street continued through campus.

The Allen Street Gates, when Allen Street continued through campus.

The Senior Class Gift has been a Penn State tradition since the Class of ’61—that’s 1861! — donated a portrait of Evan Pugh to hang in Old Main. Among the more notable gifts through the decades: the Allen Street Gates (thank you, Class of 1916), the Celebration Garden at Rec Hall (great call, Class of 2007), and the gift that’s impossible to top, the Nittany Lion Shrine (bravo, Class of 1940).

Voting is under way now for the Class of 2010 gift. Seniors can vote online or in the HUB-Robeson Center for one of three options, detailed on the blog The choices:

1. A public sculpture and endowed scholarship. The staff at the Palmer Museum of Art has installed the sculpture, by Harry Gordon, between Armsby and North Freer so voters (and the rest of us) can check it out.

2. A maintenance endowment for the HUB Aquarium (which was a gift of the Class of 1999).

3. A marsh meadow boardwalk and overlook for the Arboretum at Penn State.

It’s been a big month for class gifts. Just two weeks ago, the Old Main Bell was removed from its perch, thanks to the Class of 2009. It will be restored and displayed a ground level, enabling all of us to enjoy it.

The Class of 2010 winner will be announced next week, so stay tuned.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

October 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm 2 comments

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