Libraries, Shaver's Creek present exhibit talk on Pennsylvania venomous snakes

January 08, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries, in collaboration with Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, will host the presentation “Into the Woods: Living with Pennsylvania’s Venomous Snakes” from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, in the Mann Assembly Room, 103 Paterno Library, on the University Park campus. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Shaver’s Creek representatives will focus the presentation on venomous snake conservation, showcasing timber rattlesnakes and copperhead snakes, but also will include a selection of nonvenomous snakes for comparison. A slideshow will offer some insight into use of the rattlesnake as a symbol of the American colonies and the animal’s position as the oldest and arguably most iconic U.S. symbol. Following the presentation, audience members are invited to participate in a docent tour of the University Libraries exhibit “Into the Woods: Nature in Your Library” in the Diversity Studies Room, 203 Pattee Library.

The tour will provide visitors with a review of material from the exhibit, which explores the Eastern U.S. forest, its wildlife and botanical wealth, and gives special tribute to early women naturalists and conservationists. Visitors to the exhibit also can learn about the history of Penn State’s forest science program, which began in 1903 when the governor of Pennsylvania established the Penn State Forest Academy in Mont Alto.

Snakes have played an integral role in early American mythology and folklore — the most famous is perhaps the Gadsden flag, which features an image of a coiled rattlesnake with the words “DON’T TREAD ON ME” emblazoned below. Today, there are 21 species of snakes considered native to Pennsylvania, of which three are venomous: the Eastern copperhead, the timber rattlesnake and the Eastern massasauga.

Reports of venomous snake bites in Pennsylvania are relatively rare and commonly result from a person attempting to capture or poorly handle a poisonous snake. “Into the Woods: Living with Pennsylvania’s Venomous Snakes” will explore the snake’s role in our culture and, given how essential snakes are to our ecosystem, the measures people can take to promote a harmonious coexistence.  

Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, in Petersburg, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1976 as a resource for the community and as a field laboratory for Penn State students to get hands-on experience teaching about the natural world. Having just completed the largest expansion and renovation project in its 40-year history, Shaver’s Creek reaches more than 70,000 Pennsylvanians each year through school programs and summer camps, team-building activities, festivals and public workshops, and traveling naturalist programs. The center also impacts more than 2,300 Penn State students through credit and noncredit programs and works with six colleges at the University Park campus.

The University Libraries’ exhibit “Into the Woods: Nature in Your Library” is on display through Feb. 11 in the Diversity Studies Room, 203 Pattee Library, on the University Park campus, during the George and Sherry Middlemas Arts and Humanities Library's hours of operation. For additional information, contact Pembroke Childs, information resources and services support specialist, at or 814-863-2332. 

Last Updated February 05, 2019