A Natural “Silver” lining in Bristol
by Cate Murway

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children”. Audobon 

Nestled within Bristol Township, the Silver Lake Nature Center provides unique hands on education in its outdoor 235-acre natural treasure preservation and conservation classroom.  Indigenous Bucks County vegetation and habitats are integrated into every aspect of the contrasting environments of meadow, marsh, woodland and pond and the 4.5 miles of diverse habitat preserved trails.
Records indicate that Silver Lake appeared in its present location around 1689, originally man-made as a pond when dams were placed on the Otter and Adam's Hollow Creeks to provide power for the mills in Bristol.

The recent Hurricane Irene will be remembered as a major storm that has caused significant flooding, and small parks and large shared in the destruction.

PattiAnn Lynn, the Environmental Educator/PR-Marketing Coordinator 
sent out a call for assistance and a crew of 15-20 volunteers 
shared 60 man-hours to repair the damage and preserve 
this priceless heritage for generations to come.
PattiAnn moved debris from around the building 
and kept everyone hydrated.
Her husband, David R. Lynn worked along with 
Director-Naturalist Robert A. Mercer to readjust 
the recycled plastic boardwalks that had floated 
and moved several inches.

“Merce”, a Bristol Rotary Board member, recently earned the 2011 Nature Center Leadership Award. 
“It’s quite an honor. It’s for leadership in the profession.”

Bob manages the Silver Lake Nature Center that is jointly operated by the Bucks County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Friends of Silver Lake Nature Center.
“The water was 4 ½ feet deep in some places and all the water was held on the park.
That’s the beauty of the wetlands and Silver Lake.”
The wetlands are remnants of the original Mill Pond.

The roster of volunteers who responded to PattiAnn’s request included some parents who came with their children to help in the clean up, encouraging responsible environmental stewardship. Several became new members of the Nature Center.
"Thanks so much for coming out to the Volunteer Work Day on Saturday ! We had a great turnout, and got so much done!"

Retired 3M engineer, Anthony A. Garwood and his wife, Barbara A. Campbell, a former Elementis Specialties technologist are members of the Nature Center and they reside in Edgely.
Barbara is a naturalist aid at the center and Tony volunteers on the 1st Saturday of each month. This weekend they cleared tree paths and cleaned up the open-air amphitheatre.
They enjoy the butterfly garden and taking walks on the trails throughout the park. 
Tony, a former industrial professional photographer, still enjoys taking photographs as his hobby.
Barbara was enthusiastic. “Thank you for publicizing the good things that happen at Silver Lake!”
Silver Lake Nature Center is an environmental education center as well as a peaceful retreat!

Kevin Garry and Hope Ann Sauppe are Nature Center committee members. Hope is a data manager and Kevin, the former owner of US 1 Pizza, is the deli manager at Redners Warehouse Market.
They still find time to volunteer at Silver Lake. Kevin provides PR for the marketing committee and Hope volunteers on the Green Fest and facilities committees.
She helped clean up the flooding in the intern cottage on Saturday.
Hope shared, “It’s not just for kids. The people are friendly and we enjoy the bird walks and hikes.” Birding is a family passion. Her brother-in-law, Barry Sauppe is a famous ornithologist in California. 

Jason S. Colflesh, a computer programmer for Epicor industry-specific Software Solutions, encourages volunteerism and he came to help along with his 7-year-old daughter, Naomi. “Conservation values help the environment.”
Naomi belongs to Brownie Troop #21071 and is in the 2nd grade. She has been volunteering since December. She has logged a total of 75 hours of service in the past year and her goal is to earn the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
Together they worked on maintenance on the front display garden and the milkweed and butterfly gardens. They particularly enjoy the adventure series outdoor-based activities such as rock climbing and kayaking.

Dale Lee Frazier is the President and Founder of G.O.A.L., the Greenbelt Overhaul Alliance of Levittown an IRS 501(c)(3), non-profit organization dedicated to cleaning and maintaining tributaries, greenways and waterways, elimination of waterway damming by debris and removal of undesirable plant species with replacement by desirable species.  They are doing this with an all-volunteer work force.
 “We create alliances with like minded organizations.”
The Grundy Foundation is a sponsor.

Dale at one time restored vintage automobiles for car shows.
Last Saturday morning, he joined forces with other volunteers and worked on clearing fallen trees and branches.

G.O.A.L. hosts seminars at the Bristol Township Senior Center on Bath Road in the Bristol Township Municipal Complex. For more information, www.ltowngoal.com.

Our PA nature and environmental centers are catalysts of education and community.

“Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher”  William Wordsworth 

Mission accomplished. Silver Lake Nature Center is once again pristine.
The Nature Center has a great Auditorium inside their Visitors' Building that can be rented out for meetings and other events. The outdoor Amphitheater is also a perfect beautiful place for a Wedding or other Special Events!
Bet you had no idea all this was here!

Everyone is invited: Families, teachers, students, Scout groups, Seniors, Community Service workers, Home school Associations, College students, Disabled individuals and groups, Nature clubs, artists, photographers, walkers, skiers, bikers and tourists.

You don't have to travel to exotic places to discover nature — countless opportunities for exploration are available right here in the familiar territory of Bucks County.
There is something for everyone! Silver Lake Nature Center is the only place like this nearby!
There’s nothing like a day of fresh air and adventure to bring the family together.
You are cordially invited to come play in the park! 
P.S. pack your sunscreen and bug repellent.

Concert in the Woods with Mark Cormican, a Tribute to John Denver, Nature, and our Environment - Saturday, 9/17/11 at 7:30pm. Reserve your tickets [$10/person - all ages].

Silver Lake Nature Center
1306 Bath Road
Bristol, PA  19007
FAX: 215.785.3228 
Open: Tuesday - Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm 
Closed Mondays 
Trails are open daily, sunrise to sunset.

Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail vjmrun@yahoo.com 


Bob Mercer retiring after four decades at the helm of the Silver Lake Nature Center in Bristol

Monday, November 30, 2015
By Petra Chesner Schlatter
@petraschlatter on Twitter


After four decades with the Silver Lake Nature Center, Bob Mercer is hitting the trail.

“It’s about time I guess,” said the 63-year-old Silver Lake naturalist who will be retiring this month as executive director of the nature center, a job he has held since 1975 when Gerald Ford was president and the nature center consisted of an old house and 60 acres of land.

To wish him well in his new endeavors, the Board of the Friends of Silver Lake Nature Center gave Mercer a grand retirement party at the Center for the Arts on Mill Street in Bristol Borough. The event was attended by upwards of 130 people, all of whom came out to thank Mercer for his leadership and wish him well.
The gathering included family members, people the Mercers met when they first arrived in Bucks County in 1974, former and current co-workers and board members, volunteers, familiar faces from his many nature-led walks and outings in addition to people from the community where he was active with the Bristol Rotary Club and other organizations.

Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia was on hand to wish him well and present him with a proclamation from the commissioners recognizing his service to the county and to Silver Lake. He also received commendations from State Senator Tommy Tomlinson and State Rep. Tina Davis who could not attend due to the ongoing budget crisis in Harrisburg.
“It was a very delightful evening,” said Mercer, who laughs about getting so much attention.
“It’s really strange,” he said. “You go to these events and you’re one of many people there. Knowing that everyone was there because of me was heartwarming,” he said.
“It’s one of those ‘Wow!” moments. It only happens once in your life and I feel privileged that it happened to me,” said Mercer.
As a county employee, he has been responsible for the overnight of the 235-acre nature center, managing its staff and interacting with both the county, which owns the nature center, and the nonprofit Friends of Silver Lake Nature Center, which is managed by a 13-member board of directors that raises significant amounts of money in support of the center.

“Part of the job as executive director means going out in the community representing the center,” Mercer said. Marketing, fundraising and writing grants were major responsibilities that he did with great ease.
“I got to go out and teach the kids and adults,” he said, noting that more recently he hired people to do all of the “fun stuff.”
Since he came on board in July 1975, Mercer has overseen the expansion of the nature center from 60 to 235 acres and efforts to improve and expand the center’s infrastructure and programming.
“We worked out of an old house,” said Mercer, remembering back to 1975. “Then we built a new building and renovated it. We went from 60 to 235 acres of land. And the involvement in the community and the Friends organization is 30-fold higher than it was.”
One of his more challenging jobs was marketing the center.
“People don’t think of Bristol as a nature destination,” he said. “But we have 40 plants that are rare, threatened or endangered. We’re surrounded by I-95, Route 13 and the Turnpike so we’re really easy to get to. And it’s a great opportunity to get connected with nature and the environment.”

Mercer said what he liked most about his time with the nature center was working with interns. His retirement party also served as a fundraiser for the internship program. Interns come from all over the country and even other parts of the world, including one student who was from Africa.
“Students come here, work with us, learn about nature and take on projects,” he said. “They take what they learn here, finish their schooling and get a job.
“It’s amazing how so many of them keep in touch and tell how they’re getting along in life,” Mercer said. “They’re young adults.”
Never missing an opportunity to market Silver Lake, he starts speaking extemporaneously about the nature center. “We’ve just redone our exhibit area,” he said, and opened Spaceship Earth.

The grounds, he said, have almost 4.5 miles of trails and people can use the grounds seven days a week Sunday to Saturday from sunrise to sunset. “We have sections of trails that are flat and handicapped accessible and are easy to negotiate. We’ve got unique habitat for the state of Pennsylvania, which is more like southern Jersey and Delaware than the rest of Pennsylvania.
“A lot of folks walk the grounds, visit the center and the museum inside. Many people go to the nature center for its programs.”
There are bird-watching programs in the spring and fall, Sunday strolls a school nature club for kids and summer camp where people can go kayaking in the summer-time, and more, he noted. People can become a member for $35 per year.

Over the years, Mercer has many favorite stories that he has ‘collected.’ “I have a hard time picking out one,” he said. “I can give you dozens of them.

“Back in the 70s we had student interns from Bensalem High School,” he said. “They were looking for a way to get out of school. They said they were interested in geology. I did some work with a rock display, but they really weren’t interested in geology,” he said.
One day, a number of years later, a person came into the center. “He said, “You’re Bob Mercer! I’m Angie. I wanted to stop and tell you I went to school and became a geologist. Now, I’m an environmental educator at a camp in California.

“It’s been great experience and the center is going to be strong even though I’m gone,” Mercer said. “It’s a great place for people to visit and more importantly to support.”

Mercer’s last day on the job is December 18. In retirement, he plans to travel through the country with his wife, Eileen, experiencing new adventures in nature and visiting lots of parks.

For more information about the Silver Lake Nature Center, visit www.SilverLakeNatureCenter.org or call 215-785-1177.

Strings Attached
by Cate Murway 
Join us under the stars for a “Concert in the Woods”! 
10.24.09   7:30 p.m.
“Its been a good life all in all
Its really fine
To have the chance to hang around
And lie there by the fire” 
                          John Denver - Poems, Prayers, and Promises ...
Singer, songwriter, musician and Nashville recording artist, Chris Westfall will perform a stirring “Tribute to John Denver Concert” at the beautiful Silver Lake Nature Center outdoor amphitheatre. Chris is known not only for his heartfelt performances of John Denver’s music but also for his own memorable music that reaches the heart and stirs the soul. His pure, clear voice and uplifting songs and rich and dynamic lyrics render his melodies nothing less than a journey of spirit, a celebration to be felt. Make sure you hear this talented troubadour! 
You will enjoy listening to him as much as he obviously enjoys performing.
Stop into the Silver Lake Nature Center or e-mail the Environmental Educator/ Public Relations coordinator,Patricia Ann [PattiAnn] Cutter for tickets and information.  pacutter@co.bucks.pa.us
Christopher Raymond Westfall, Bishop Eustace Preparatory School ‘89/ Rutgers U. ’93, namesake of his 95-year-old grandfather, Raymond Rose, offers an amazing gift of music that needs to be shared. His Grandpa Rose is a self-taught musician with a valuable technique; he played the piano by ear. Extremely talented Chris began his piano lessons to learn song and chord structure in the 4th grade and concentrated on figuring out the notes and rhythms to develop his own style on the 6-string, 12-string and classical guitars from the time he was twelve.
The store of skills he has amassed is clearly evident! 
Chris’ strong passion for music is apparent in his distinctive, “indicative of him only" songs with the feelings they invoke and the pictures that they paint in one's mind as they are played. 
He undoubtedly has a story to tell and a message to be heard! 
Songwriting is truly a magical process that he finds incredibly exciting!

“Every wave that crashes towards the shore 
It seems to whisper 
A song that I have never heard before 
A song that I will never hear again” 
Chris will perform some of the music of his mentor, the American country music/folk singer-songwriter and folk rock musician, John Denver [1943-1997], the environmentalist and humanitarian who was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. The son of a U.S Air Force officer, John Denver’s artistic journey began after the family moved to Tucson, where at age eleven, he was given his grandmother’s guitar. Denver ultimately adopted his stage surname from the beautiful Rocky Mountain capitol city of Colorado, his favorite state. His happy, positive “All-American” image and gentle lyrics of peace and harmony made “The Poet for the Planet” the most popular country artist of the 1970’s. 
PattiAnn Cutter had always loved the extraordinarily powerful moving music of John Denver and had traveled to participate in the weeklong tribute to him by his friends and colleagues in Aspen, CO. 
It was here that she first learned of the most impressive and talented entertainer, Chris Westfall. She was mesmerized by his polished vocals and warm personable stage presence.
Chris had been performing stellar shows throughout the evening to ever growing, enthusiastic and standing-room only audiences.

As a way of showing his support and appreciation to our armed forces, Chris has 
donated several copies of his "I'm Coming Home" CD to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
“These brave young men and women valiantly defend our great country so that we may live freely. It is my hope that they will be "coming home" soon. I admire their service and dedication.”

Come to the “Concert in the Woods” to witness Westfall’s fabulous talent!
Listen to his gorgeous original songs in good John Denver Tradition with 4 guitars and an electronic keyboard!
"Folk singers are like eagles. They never flock. You find them one at a time. It's time for a new singer to emerge in American music. We are so ready. Do you know the candidate? I do"    Bruce Hodges, WBRJ 98.1, Blue Ridge Country Galax, VA

The beautiful amphitheatre has held many functions but this is the 1st full-fledged concert.
[Concert will be indoors in the case of inclement weather]

Tickets are just $10.00 a person.
Plenty of refreshments for sale and a bake sale!
Proceeds will benefit the “Friends of Silver Lake Nature Center”.

“I'm coming home, I'm on my way 
Like a river meets the ocean 
Like a vessel nears the port out from the bay” 

[Italicized lyrics- I'm Coming Home © 2001 Christopher Westfall]

Silver Lake Nature Center
1306 Bath Road
Bristol, PA  19007
215.785.1177   x12 
FAX: 215.785.3228 
Open: Tuesday - Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm 
Closed Mondays 
Trails are open daily, sunrise to sunset

Would you like your business/function spotlighted?  
E-mail vjmrun@yahoo.com

A census of birds in Bucks
December 21, 2008 7:21 AM
Bucks County Courier Times

Trudging along the trails of Silver Lake Nature Center Saturday on the annual Christmas bird count, the center's director-naturalist Bob Mercer didn't necessarily need his eyes to do the job.
Decades of studying nature have trained his ears to do it just as well.
“There's a white-throated sparrow,” said Mercer, identifying the bird from its distinctive sound without having to see it.
“That's a red-bellied woodpecker,” he continued, making another audible ID.
A naturalist at the center in Bristol Township for 33 years, Mercer joined about 50 others Saturday in counting birds all over Lower Bucks. It's part of the Audubon Society's annual census of birds in North and Central America that's done between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.
Mercer started out before 7 a.m. with Bristol resident Mary Jane Mannherz, an avid bird watcher and director of the Grundy Library in the borough. The pair counted birds at Neshaminy State Park in Bensalem and Bristol Township before moving to Silver Lake.
They were eventually joined by about eight other “birders” and continued the count at Silver Lake and then at an area near Rohm and Haas in Bristol Township.
Other bird-counting teams around Lower Bucks sent their data to Mercer, who entered it into the Audubon Society's database.
Mercer said the count was started by society members more than 100 years ago as a counter-activity to Christmas bird shoots held at many spots around the country at the time.
“They wanted to steer people into a less destructive activity regarding birds,” he said.
The annual count is a useful barometer of the ebb and flow of nature, said Mercer.
“Data from one year is useless, but collect it over many years and you start to see trends, both positive and negative,” he said.
For example, the peregrine falcon and bald eagle have made comebacks the last few years because of the longtime ban on the pesticide DDT, said Mercer.
On the negative side, Mercer is seeing more red-bellied woodpeckers and Carolina wrens in this area, an indicator he believes of global warming.
“They are traditionally southern species of birds but are gradually moving more north,” Mercer said.
The Canada geese population in Lower Bucks has gone from virtually zero 50 years ago to last year's count of 27,000, he said.
“I think the growth started with some major floods in the area decades ago,” Mercer said. “That created a habitat for them. Now, there are so many manmade lakes and ponds and drainage basins, it has just created so many places they can go.”
Mannherz said she participates in the bird count almost every year.
“It's great to be outdoors and enjoying nature and seeing how many birds there are out there, even at this time of year,” she said. “Counts of certain birds going up or down indicate things about the environment we should keep our eyes on. We have to be careful observers of what goes on in nature.”

White pines of Silver Lake
December 28, 2008 6:29 AM
Bucks County Courier Times

Most days after lunch, the old man arrives alone at Silver Lake Nature Center and begins work on his immortality.

“I'm 84 and this is what I want to leave behind,” said Don West, as he surveyed the pine grove he has planted.

“I had a goal of planting 800 trees, but at last count, I was up to 685. That's it. No more room, and I already got a couple that are too close together,” he said.

He looks up. He squints. It's cold. The sun is weak. Pale winter light drops through naked boughs of surrounding Sweetgum and old oaks. Branches are gnarled gray fingers against an unbroken sky.

“Storm moving in,” West said. “I heard "wintry mix' on the news. That means sleet, probably. I'll tell ya', if we get sleet, it's gonna break my heart to see what it'll do to these pines.”

He digs at the base of one of his trees. He talks about his life.

Grew up in South Jersey. Marine in World War II and Korea. Afterward, took a job with Boeing testing metal. Lived in Maryland back then. Always an avid hiker. Hiked a part of the Appalachian Trail once. Lovely.

Married and divorced. Moved to Southeastern Pennsylvania. Was living in a Newtown nursing home, but decided it was more like a slow-motion death sentence.

Left and got a place in Bristol. Four years ago, accidentally discovered Silver Lake in Bristol Township. Explored its trails. 

“So I'm here and I get this idea to plant pines,” he said.

The white pine is his favorite tree. It's evergreen and fragrant. It's graceful. It comes alive in a breeze. It creates mystery when clustered in woodlands.

“I asked the nature center, could they help me do this?” he said.

He was assigned two wooded acres, which he cleared.

“Took out 30 or 40 [trees] by myself. Hand saw. Yep. Hey, that was a job for one person. But I finally got 'em down and I found a guy with a chainsaw and he chopped them up. Took a little better than a year,” he said.

“When I was growing up I did a lot of hiking in Vermont and New Hampshire. Boy, they have some pine stands. When I'm walking in there among pines, it's like I'm in church, a cathedral atmosphere. 

“I've always liked white pines from North Carolina. See them? They're blue. North Carolina strain of white pine is the only one does that. Beautiful,” he said.

For three years, he dug, planted and watered. He bought 800 feet of garden hose, and hauls it to and from a small outbuilding where it connects to water.

He buys chicken wire in 100-foot lengths from Beach's Hardware. He wraps the small pines with it, to protect from deer.

“Here's my nursery,” he said, pulling back mulch, revealing pines a few inches tall.

“These are Silver Lake born. They are. I found them underneath one of the trees. Real small, but pretty. Look at the blue on that one. A fine tree.”

Most of what he's planted is still small, averaging about 5 feet. But they grow quickly. In time, they will top at 40 or 50 feet, create a cool, restful shade and a spongy carpet of needles. 

That's if the elements and nature don't interfere.

West said he has battled with hungry deer and weevils and caterpillars. He presses on, though. Even after contracting Lyme disease. Even after another illness kept him away for three months this year. 

“Why do I do this? Thick head, maybe? No, truth is, I want to get to a point where I can sit back and enjoy it. I don't have many years left. I'm hoping when I'm 90 — that's in six years — I'll be able to come here and sit. I have my lunch here some days, because I just like to sit here and imagine what it will be. I want that for other people, too. To sit here and look at these magnificent trees.”

He cusses damage done to a pine by a deer, which tore away a protective circle of chicken wire. West sets the hoe aside, reshapes the wire and wraps it around the small pine, like a parent wrapping a child in a winter coat.

Bringing in the green 
September 13, 2009

Bucks County Courier Times

The Green Fest attracted families anxious to learn more about nature and different ways to help the environment. 
Whether it was a SEPTA bus or organic produce, green was the color of choice at Silver Lake Nature Center's environmental sustainability event Saturday.
Crowds swelled as the sun slowly emerged at the Bristol Township park's second annual Green Fest.

Families said they were drawn to the event from a desire to educate their kids about nature and to explore ways to be friendlier to the environment.
"I'd like to check out the displays about building green," said Nick Ruello of Newark, Del. "It's a good activity to keep the young ones involved in caring about the environment."
His daughter, Alex, 7, said she likes the park because it gives her a lot to do.

New this year, the Mercer County Wildlife Refuge presented a show about local wild animals. 
The Schuylkill Center Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic also put on an animal show. 
"We're really excited that they're here. We tell people to take injured animals to those two places," said PattiAnn Cutter, the park's environmental educator and marketing coordinator.
People could also watch short movies about ecology and saving energy inside the center's auditorium.

More than one solar panel vendor showed visitors how to save on electricity bills by using solar panels and installing energy controllers that reduce wasted electrical current in the home.
Stephanie Ripka's company, Greenergy, sells a device that reduces power consumption.
Her husband Dave Ripka demonstrated how the device works by hooking it up to a motor and an electrical meter.
"We're saving 19 percent of our energy bills with this right now," said Dave. The couple lives in Yardley. 

About 40 tables of vendors and organizations touted a variety of ways to live naturally and minimize carbon footprints, including local farms selling organically grown produce. 
Other participants included the Holistic Moms Network, which invites speakers to talk about child care and living a "green" lifestyle, and Maid Brigade, a Bucks County cleaning service that uses only natural cleaners and practices that are free of toxic chemicals.

"We love Silver Lake for its events. And this one is a good thing to do," said Janet Singer of Yardley. Her daughter Julia walked away from the Southern Bucks Garden Club table with a watering can-shaped container filled with zinnia seeds.
"The gardening table was really cool. I had no idea what lasagna gardening was before," said Julia.

Lasagna gardening is a way to plant vegetables without digging or tilling. Layers of wet newspaper, peat moss, leaves, grass clippings and other organic materials are used instead. They break down under the sun and create a nutrient-rich bed for plants.
A little apart from the tables stood a SEPTA bus, idling almost silently.
It was both literally and functionally green, so it wasn't wasting diesel while idling, said Eric Owens, the company's transportation supervisor. 
The bus is one of about 130 SEPTA hybrid buses in Philadelphia that run partially on electricity. The bus uses only electricity while running under 35 miles per hour, and applying the brakes generates more power, said Jim Geoghan, with the SEPTA sales department.
The batteries were on the roof.
"We're hoping to have 450 hybrids running," Owens said.






No Child Left Inside
by Cate Murway

"No Child Left Inside," is a special initiative of Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell to encourage families and visitors alike to enjoy all the recreational resources and outdoor activities available in state parks, forests and waterways. A back-to-nature movement to reconnect children with the outdoors is burgeoning nationwide.
Many great events, programs and activities are offered right here in this friendly, safe and progressive community at the Silver Lake Nature Center throughout the year, such as: guided nature walks for kids and adults; kayak demos; concerts, environmental workshops; Fly Fisher’s, Photo and Garden Clubs; children’s arts & crafts and much more. “PARK” yourself here and take a walk on the wildside! 

Identical twin Robert Andrew Mercer [twin is GM engineer John Samuel], Nether Providence H.S. ‘70, Wallingford [in 1984, combined with former Swarthmore High School to become Strath Haven]/Clemson University, S.C. ’74 Parks and Recreation Administration is the director/naturalist of the Silver Lake Nature Center. [n.b. for Veteran’s Day- Clemson’s entire senior class of 1917 enlisted in World War I].

As numbers 3 and 4 of the eight children of his large family, they were encouraged by their mom to spend at least an hour outside every day on their acre of land. He quipped, “partially for her sanity, but it got us outside.” He advocates author Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. Kids spend an exorbitant amount of time and are so plugged into television and video games that they've lost their connection to the natural world. Many American children and adolescents do not exercise enough because physical education requirements are lax, they ride or are transported to school instead of walking or bicycling, and competitive team sports usually exclude the less athletically talented. Programs, public and private, are expanding research that shows kids suffer health problems, including obesity, from too much sedentary time indoors with TV and computers.
Bob started as Director with just one part time person at the Silver Lake Nature Center on July 1, 1975. He began the educational programming and maintained the trails, some of which were already built by the first naturalist hired in 1966, Levittown resident George Ross Carmichael, Tufts University ‘51/Temple University M.Ed, who still does the 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning bird walks with “his groupies”. His wife, Jean Elizabeth Carmichael was one of the first employees hired by the Friends of Silver Lake, as “[Jean] of all needs” but she still bakes for various activities. George shared, “It is so essential for everyone to understand their role and respect for nature. Humans are not exempt.” One of his first assistants, Neshaminy student, Rick Mellon is currently a consultant for Environmental Affairs. 
Students from Maple Shade Elementary School in Croydon actually walked multiple times to the center at 1006 Bath Road with the renovated garage for classes under the guidance of the late Kay Crawford, “who was wonderful for the program and really bought into the nature center”. The current building opened in July 1991. Bob runs the programs for two organizations, Bucks County Department of Parks and Recreation and Friends of Silver Lake Nature Center. He and his wife Eileen, who really do enjoy the comedy plays at the BRT and never miss a “First Night”, are Yardley residents and have 2 children, Pennsbury H.S. graduate, research chemist Stephen and St. Mary Medical Center coffee shop proprietor, Jennyann, a Council Rock grad.

Bob partnered with The Nature Conservancy, protecting ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people, to purchase much of Delhaas Woods and they added 175 acres to the Silver Lake parcel. County of Bucks supplies some maintenance staff but the volunteers do much of the work. “Volunteer John Osborn did a lion’s share of the work.” A Friends of Silver Lake supported position is Coordinator of Volunteers, marvelously filled by Mary Koch. Some of the volunteers have been with them 30 years or more. 
“We’re not just for kids. There’s 4.5 miles of trails, open from sunrise to sunset and the educational programs are very important pieces. Nature walks at 2:00 p.m. on Sundays are free for everyone.” Bob develops and shares professional training opportunities as an ANCA member [Association of Nature Center Administrators] and is on the Board of Directors for the Bristol Rotary. He is very tuned-in to sound and particularly enjoys “the music of the outdoors, not man-made sound; the sound of outdoors.” He is partial to pork and loves vegetables. He said his wife “can’t make anything bad, she’s a great cook!”

Intern Dane Ward of Croydon worked with the program when they were actively securing the Coastal Zone Management Grant to work with high school students learning and understanding the wetlands.
There is a full range of very popular environmental programs offered for school classes as well as scout groups, “sleepovers” so they can take a walk on the trails, enjoy a campfire program at the bonfire, and then spend the night. “The building is designed in such a way that we can secure it and them”, Bob confirmed.
Scout Coordinator and Program Specialist Deborah [Debbie] Dennell, Kensington Girls’ High ‘69/ Temple U. directs the very diverse programs. Her daughter, Jamie Rickelle [J. Rickelle] is the first youth in the “Century Club”, 100 hours of volunteering!
Silver Lake Nature Center is an environmental education center and a peaceful retreat!

Certified K-6 teacher, Patricia Ann [PattiAnn] Cutter, last graduating class of Archbishop Ryan for Girls/ Temple University ’01, the Environmental Educator, who was born on her dad, Patrick’s birthday, shares the exciting information with the media. Urban, suburban, and even rural parents cite a number of everyday reasons why their children spend less time in nature than they themselves did, including disappearing access to natural areas, competition from television and computers, dangerous traffic, more homework, and other pressures. PattiAnn truly enjoys encouraging the children to learn a sense of stewardship for the earth and reaching the adults with the variety of structured events including the new bonding/learning experience for parents and preschoolers. Their goal is to grow environmental stewards, not just healthy kids! The group meets two Wednesdays a month, each month with a different seasonal theme, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. to enjoy activities, games, crafts, walks on the trails and camaraderie. The youngsters can touch slimy slugs, see an endangered species of red bellied turtle and coastal plain leopard frogs, smell tree bark, look under rocks, feel crinkly and soft leaves, hear musical bird songs, creep up on furry bunnies or even climb a tree as they and their parents are exposed to a variety of environmental activities and curiosities. Bob proudly states, “Geologically, botanically and animal wise we are unique for the state of PA.”
Principal of Snyder-Girotti Elementary School and Board of Directors President of Friends of Silver Lake Nature Center Rosemary Parmigiani who oversees the planning and follow through of the Center’s programs, said her 4th grade students will be participating in the “wetlands educational program”. They provide more than half of the staff and provide almost half of the budget. They are the direct responsive community support. The Center is here, able to do what they do, because of the community support through the Friends of Silver Lake Nature Center contributions. 
“Thank you to the community for your support!” 
The late physician/educator/philosopher/humanitarian/childhood educator Maria Montessori [1870-1952] said simply: "In nature, children find strength."
PattiAnn’s favorite music is that of the late American folk singer/songwriter/folk rock musician John Denver [1943 –1997], born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. He has been referred to as "The Poet For the Planet" and his songs were suffused with a deep and abiding kinship with the natural world.

“Celebrate morning,
The cry of a loon on a lake in the night
Dreams that are born in the dawn's early light
Celebrate morning.
Celebrate evening,
The stars that appear in the loss of the sun,
Whispering winds, We are one, we are one
Celebrate land and sea
Celebrate you and me
Celebrate Earth Day, every day” [“Earth Day, Every Day” lyrics by John Denver]

PA nature and environmental centers are catalysts of education and community. Paying a visit to these centers can provide a few lessons in local history, geology, and conservation. Additionally, the staff members are usually great resources for learning more about environmental tourism in the area and can often recommend hiking trails, great photo opportunities, and prime nature watching locations. They also encourage responsible environmental stewardship with a commitment to the preservation of resources and wildlife habitat and instill an awareness and appreciation of the natural world.
You don't have to travel to exotic places to discover nature — countless opportunities for exploration are available right here in the familiar territory of Bucks County.
There is something for everyone! They are the only place like this nearby!
There’s nothing like a day of fresh air and adventure to bring the family together.
You are cordially invited to come play in the park! 
p.s. pack your sunscreen and bug repellent.

Annual Tree Decorating—Late November 
Bird Seed Sale—Saturday, Dec. 8 
For more information or to volunteer for any event, 
please call Mary Koch at the Center. 
Annual Volunteer Holiday Luncheon—Thursday, Dec. 13 
Plan your next party at Silver Lake!

Silver Lake Nature Center
1306 Bath Road
Bristol, PA  19007
FAX: 215.785.3228 
Open: Tuesday - Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm 
Closed Mondays 
Trails are open daily, sunrise to sunset.


 Patricia Ann [PattiAnn] Cutter
Christopher Raymond [Chris] Westfall
  Robert Andrew Mercer
Chris Westfall RETURNS
Concert in the Woods 10.24.09   7:30 p.m.