I’d like to wish all of you a peaceful and productive New Year.
I’d also like to remind you that in the coming years our future
demands that we all must make well informed, conscientious
decisions in all aspects of our lives and society — decisions that take
into account their long term effect on the environment. These
decisions can only be made by people who are not only committed
to environmental responsibility, but have an understanding of the
interdependence of all living things, the need for the diversity of all
forms and all phases of life and the potential problems of
unrestrained human population growth. These decisions must be
made by people who believe we have a moral responsibility to future
generations to protect and restore the earth, its life, its
communities and its processes. These goals and commitments
must be shared, not only by all segments of our society, but by
every other nation on Earth.
However, the environmental legacy of the twentieth century is
threatened with this reality: unless we avoid some deadly pitfalls the
environmental triumphs we’ve achieved and the challenges we must
continue to address will soon be cast aside. Remember personal
survival always takes precedence. Environmental responsibility and
understanding require spiritual, moral and intellectual growth;
something that cannot occur in people that live in a world of
poverty, injustice, desperation and despair.
I spent Christmas Eve,1967, at a Marine Base in Da Nang, Viet
Nam. It was uncharacteristically somber for a Marine Base, probably
because of the holiday. Most of us tried to sleep. The marines in
the base were mostly young recruits, new to the country, waiting
for assignment. There were also some older marines returning to
I was no longer one of them. I was waiting for a flight to Okinawa,
then a discharge and home. I was much older, a hardened veteran,
someone who’d seen the war and returned to tell about it. But I
wasn’t talking much. I was 22.
I remember that night vividly. I couldn’t sleep. I just lay in my cot
and listened to the new marines whimper as they thought about
their limited future, the inevitability and the proximity of their
violent ends. Occasionally, one of the returning marines would
wake up and scream in terror.
I felt fear that night more deeply than I ever had before. Unlike my
companions, I was not afraid of a paralyzing, disfiguring injury or a
violent, bloody death. I had resigned myself to that months
before. I feared that with only a week or so left, that I successfully
avoided the inevitable. I would not die.
Instead I would return home and face a future that I could not
imagine, no matter how hard I tried. I would return to a family and
friends I no longer knew. I would be forced to deal with a hostile
society and my own bitterness. I would be expected to have
emotions; to make responsible decisions; to find solutions other than
attack or retreat.
When I returned home, I was not a responsible, contributing citizen.
My adjustment was long and painful.
We cannot expect people who live in fear; who live under the threat
of violence, either sanctioned by governments, or from individuals or
groups, to make decisions that consider the future and the common
good. Violence, fear, intolerance, hatred, poverty and despair are
all barriers to a sound environmental future.
I’d like to wish you peace in the new year, but instead I implore you
to aggressively pursue it.
As of December, 2020 , the club is still on hiatus because of the Covid-19 virus. We are not collecting any dues at this time. We hope all our members are well and that things get back to normal in 2021. E-mails will be sent to our mailing list when meetings start up again.
All activities cancelled/postponed until further notice because of the coronavirus and Gov. Wolf’s “stay home” order.
Sunday March 29th Hutchison, PA – for snow trillium- 1:00 PM
Saturday, April 18th Rock Point, Ellwood City.- abandoned amusement park – 1:00 PM
Weds. April 22nd Camp Guyasuta – spring wildflowers -10:30 am
Friday 4/24 Riverview Park – Wissahickon Cabin area Great Horned Owl on nest – 1:00 PM
Emails will be sent with more information and directions. Thanks to our outings chair: Judy Stark 412-327-9537
John Canning presented “Riverview Park & Early Years of Wissahickon Hollow and Nature Club”.
John brought his “North Side” friends, Nancy- the Ranger at Riverview Park – and Ed. He had a dvd of old photos from the 1800’s which showed the beauty of the Allegheny Commons Park and the buildings of Old Allegheny City.
Riverview Park was created for the city folk to have a place to get away into nature. It was situated on the trolley line, and many neighborhoods were able to easily access it.
Riverview once had a zoo and a swimming pool. John spent his childhood playing in Riverview’s creeks and going to Summer Camp at the Wissahickon cabin, which was built in 1913. When the zoo closed, the nature cabin housed some live animals, such as snakes, frogs and a opossum.
Our Wissahickon Nature Club had its inception in 1941 at Riverview Park and took its name from the creek and cabin of the same name, where it held its meetings. When the cabin burned down, meetings were moved to other venues and today we meet at Fern Hollow Nature Center.
As the year draws to a close we mourn the passing of George Bercik on 29 December 2019.
George was an avid birder and longtime member of the Wissahickon Nature Club who loved the outdoors. He often joined the club on outings and, over the years, made many trips to his favorite place in the woods of Canada. In recent years as his health declined we missed him at our meetings and outings.
We send condolences to his friends and family. George’s obituary and funeral arrangements can be found at this link.
Kate St. John presented Peregrine Falcons – A Success Story.
Kate has been watching peregrines since the 90’s. She explained the history of Peregrines in PA and the story of their successful reintroduction. She told the family histories of Dorothy, Hope and Morela and covered some of the other breeding pairs in our area.
This was our annual Christmas Cookie party. Members brought cookies, ate cookies, took cookies home!
We will take our annual winter break January and February 2020 .
Donna Foyle presented Introduced and Endemic Birds from Three Hawaiian Islands. Even from a young age, Donna was fascinated with birds. She got her first camera at age 7 and the rest is history. Donna was on a bird tour in February with three other birder friends. Her photos were fantastic of beautiful introduced birds and also a few natives. Many birds are threatened because of introduced predators, ie rats and disease carrying mosquitoes. One albatross that she photographed had a leg band. She was able to trace the number to find out that it was probably seven years old, sex undetermined.
Mike Fialkovich presented “Birds and Nature in Southern Texas”.
In November, 2018, Mike joined an Audubon Society of W. Pennsylvania tour to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas to see the area’s famed birds, Mike shared his photographs of the birds, other wildlife and plants that the group experienced during the trip.
Long time member and past president, Tim Manka, passed away September 4, 2019. He will be remembered for his love of science and nature. His stories from past park ranger jobs, boy scouts and years of teaching at Shaler High School added interest to our meetings. He was always willing to share “treasures” from his archival library, and enjoyed partaking of the cookie table. It was a long standing Wissahickon tradition that he did an animated rendition of “The Night Before Christmas” at our annual cookie exchange meeting. His absence at our meetings will be felt by all.
Viewing will be at Neid Funeral Home on Washington Street in Swissvale on Friday, September 27, 2019 from 2-4 pm and 6-8pm. and Saturday September 28 at 9:30 am, followed by a service.
Tim is to be named a Glacier National Park ranger posthumously!
Our condolences to his family and friends.
We will kick off the new club year with a wine and cheese social and a presentation by member, Don Weiss. He will lead us on a scenic tour of the State of Washington. His photos will highlight birds, animals, flowers, scenic views and a few butterflies.
Come at 7:00 pm to socialize. Bring a snack/cheese or dessert to share. The meeting will start at 7:30 pm at Fern Hollow Nature Center, 1901 Glen Mitchell Road, Sewickley, PA 15143. The club will provide the wine.