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Snetsinger Butterfly Garden at Tudek Park

That angry bee is buzzing too close for comfort. That woolly caterpillar is inching toward you. But watch the bee drinking the nectar from an echinacea coneflower and you may see it as serene. Witness that ugly caterpillar becoming a beautiful butterfly and you’ll think twice about squashing the next one that wiggles across your path.

We learn from a young age to be scared of bees and repelled by caterpillars. We may not learn how bees, butterflies and all beneficial pollinators are essential to life.

It makes you stop and think,” says Master Gardener Pam Ford, co-founder of Wings in the Park, a yearly event that celebrates pollinators and what they do for us.

Penn State Extension Master Gardeners has been hosting Wings in the Park in the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden at Tom Tudek Memorial Park for eight years. This summer's event (date to be announced) will be its ninth year.

Wings in the Park starts with a “Pollinators Parade.” Children and adults dressed as bees, butterflies and birds walk from the Tom Tudek Memorial Overlook to the butterfly garden, where they learn how they can save pollinators by providing habitats for them in their own gardens.

Sponsored by Penn State Extension Master Gardeners and partner organizations, Wings in the Park accentuates the positives about pollinators. “When children dress as bees, they become less afraid of them,” Ford says. “The whole day is meant to be a joyful experience for children and their families.”

The event draws its inspiration from its co-founder, the late Dr. Robert Snetsinger, aka “Butterfly Bob.” Dr. Snetsinger and the Penn State Master Gardeners developed the butterfly garden at Tudek Park nine years ago in cooperation with partners of the park. Ford served as a Master Gardener intern under Dr. Snetsinger, who envisioned the garden as a sanctuary for butterflies, as well as a beautiful place to honor the memory of his late daughter.

“Bob would put a bug in my hand, reminding me of my excitement as a child when I discovered the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly,” Ford said. “Holding that bug tapped into the emotion I had as a child.”

Then he gave her a seedling to take home and plant. “A couple of weeks later, I had a caterpillar on it,” she said. “He knew that’s how it begins. Like the story of Johnny Appleseed.” Give someone a plant and the magic of life will take hold of you.

“Snetsinger Butterfly Garden isn’t a garden of plants or insects,” Ford added. “It’s a garden of stories.”

Photo Galleries

Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, July 2016
Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, July 2015
Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, July 2014

Wings in the Park, 2017
Wings in the Park, 2016
Wings in the Park, 2015
Wings in the Park, 2014