backpack program encourages outdoor activities | Local News

Westmoreland Nature Backpacks are now available at Westmoreland County Libraries.

The Westmoreland Land Trust, in partnership with the Westmoreland Library Network, has provided these backpacks of high quality guides and tools for nature exploration. There are three types of backpacks: for streams and forests; flower and pollinators; and the birds.

Dr. Paula Purnell, Westmoreland Land Trust partner for educational programming, will visit libraries in June and July for workshops on the use of backpacks. Dr. Purnell’s workshops are family friendly, fun and informative. A calendar can be found among the events listed on

In recent years, there has been growing recognition that people – especially children – are now spending less time in nature, with an associated reduction in their happiness and well-being. Westmoreland Land Trust created the backpacks to encourage children and families to enjoy exploring nature and benefit from the resources and tools of backpacks.

Loree, an Ameri Corps volunteer, described the efforts to make the project a reality.

The Westmoreland Land Trust prepared (and subsequently received) a grant application titled “Nature Backpacks for Westmoreland Libraries Highlight Local Trails”.

The Nature backpacks, which are circulating in libraries across the county, are intended for use outdoors by children, when visiting a trail or park, or playing in a garden, and will encourage observation and enjoyment of local plant and animal life.

“It was exciting and surprising, but mostly encouraging to learn that 17 county libraries each wanted two or three backpacks,” Loree said. “It allowed us to work with retail suppliers to get a good price on the products. Betsy used her excellent research skills to find great prices on field guides. »

The Hawk Migration Association of North America donated 50 laminated hawk identification guides.

“We all worked hard applying patches, tying cords and laminating resource guides,” Loree said.

“Donors, board and committee members volunteered valuable time. Dr. Paula Purnell guided the selection of tools and the development of resource materials, and organized an amazing flower and pollinator scavenger hunt. Finally, 67 nature backpacks were filled with tools and guides, and delivered to the Westmoreland Library Network.