HOLLIDAYSBURG - A late Hollidaysburg man's passion for environmental education is receiving recognition.
The Terry Wentz Education Center will be dedicated today at Canoe Creek State Park in honor of the longtime park manager.
Wentz, who died in May at age 62, managed the park for 24 years and retired from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Bureau of State Parks after 34 years of service.
A private ceremony marking the renaming of the park's existing environmental education center will begin at 2 p.m.
A dedication plaque will be unveiled inside the center and a resolution will be presented from the office of state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair.
A bird hike open to the public will follow the ceremony.
"He knew every nook and cranny of that park," Wentz's wife, Debbie, said Wednesday. "It's a positive way to remember him. I mean, he would be so pleased."
Wentz, who graduated with a Penn State University forestry degree in 1969, was instrumental in establishing the education center and fought to get a 12-month educator position at the park, Canoe Creek Environmental Education Specialist Heidi Mullendore said Thursday.
"Terry's dedicated career was the embodiment of what our park environmental centers strive to cultivate - respect, knowledge and stewardship," DCNR Secretary John Quigley said in a press release.
Wentz repeatedly was recognized for his work with the largest little brown bat colony east of the Mississippi River, located in an abandoned church near the park, Quigley said. His conservation efforts also resulted in further protection for the endangered Indiana bat, also found on Canoe Creek's 960 acres, he said.
Wentz was a founding member of the Rails to Trails of Central Pennsylvania, a past president of the Juniata Valley Audubon Society, and he helped develop a benefit horse ride trail for the therapeutic horseback riding organization Dreams Go On.
The Bureau of State Parks honored Wentz's longstanding work with bluebirds with a posthumous Cavity Nesting Monitor of the Year award.
"Although Terry was not able to continue monitoring for the 2010 season, he was the motivating force to get the bluebird trail at Canoe Creek up and running," Mullendore said. "Terry was instrumental in getting over 100 bluebird boxes up, soliciting and working with volunteers, and accumulating nesting data during that time. As a result, the park has a high fledgling success rate and a dedicated team for monitoring."
The bureau's cavity-nesting monitoring program, which was established 29 years ago, now involves 49 of the 117 state parks. The program involves more than 150 volunteers, ranging in age from high school students to some in their upper 80s.
"Whether it was preservation of the park's bat hibernacula and nursery colony, expansion of bluebird monitoring efforts or volunteer efforts after retirement, Terry never stopped giving to Canoe Creek and that conservation ethic extended far beyond park borders," Quigley said.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Clegg is at 949-7030.