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Yearly Themes

Launching our new yearly theme

We are excited to announce that in 2024, Asbury Woods will again have a year-long theme for our programs and outreach activities, The Year of Trees. Yearly themes help us to dive deeper into various environmental and conservation topics as we pursue our vision for Northwestern Pennsylvania to be a place where appreciation for and protection of natural places is a deeply held personal and community value.

 Sponsored by


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2024: The Year of Trees

Trees form the backdrop for most of the Asbury Woods property and are core to the establishment of Asbury Woods by Dr. Otto Behrend, co-founder of Hammermill Paper Company in Erie. Dr. Behrend’s family had a rich history in papermaking, and from an early age he developed a deep appreciation for the power of trees, for industry, but also for health, wellbeing, and recreation. Throughout his life, Dr. Behrend was known as an avid outdoorsman, enjoying farming, walking in the woods with his dogs, golfing, planting fruit orchards and reforesting the 110-acre tract of land he purchased in 1920, then known as Asbury Farm. Dr. Behrend planted numerous trees over the years to reforest the former farmland but also to experiment with various papermaking processes. Dr. Behrend was known as an innovator in the science of papermaking and his country estate provided the perfect place to indulge his scientific curiosity and love of trees.

Upon his death, Dr. Behrend’s beloved country estate was left to become the community treasure that is Asbury Woods. His original 110 acres has grown to 234 acres today, but remains true to Dr. Behrend’s wish that it be a place for education and outdoor recreation. We can’t think of a better way to honor Dr. Behrend’s gift to the community than by celebrating 2024 as The Year of Trees.

The value of trees in a community is well-documented, providing shade and lowering energy costs, attracting wildlife, contributing to cleaner air, controlling erosion, reducing carbon in the atmosphere, beautification of urban, shopping, and residential areas, and so much more! This year Asbury Woods will explore trees from all angles. Identifying, appreciating, and caring for them, as well as sometimes knowing when to cut them down. Throughout the year we will host tree related programs and projects for all ages including hikes, self-guided activities, lectures, and an Arbor Day celebration just to name a few.

We are extremely grateful to J. Thomas Tree Service for serving as the Presenting Sponsor of The Year of Trees. Their involvement and support will provide topic experts for various programs and help us offer several new programs at no cost throughout the year. Owner, Jake Thomas, commented, “Asbury Woods is a special place in our community and I’m proud that our company has supported them for many years. During 2024 it is our pleasure to expand that support and partnership to present The Year of Trees.”

This year we hope you’ll take time to look at trees, appreciate them, learn more about them and share with us your favorite tree on our social media accounts with #yearoftrees. You can get started by attending one of our many upcoming Year of Trees programs that are easily identified with a tree symbol in the newsletter.

ArborDay WEB

Arbor Day Celebration

Time: 1:00 - 4:00 pm
FREE, open to the public

Celebrate our mighty trees during this family-friendly event for all ages. Learn how to identify trees, why trees are important, how to care for trees, and much more at our hands-on stations. This program is free and open to the public thanks to a generous donation from J. Thomas Tree Service in celebration of The Year of Trees.

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Year of Trees Programming:

Tour of Trees Hike

Self-guided Hike: Tour of Trees

To launch our programming for the Year of Trees, we created a special self-guided hike along the Guided Trail for everyone to enjoy.  Along this trail, you’ll find trees marked with QR codes. Use your phone’s camera (or a QR app) and click the link to be directed to a webpage about that type of tree. There are 16 QR codes about different trees along the  EagleTrail, which covers approximately 0.30 miles and takes about 20 minutes to walk. You can start at either end and do them in any order, just follow the Eagle Trail.  Enjoy learning about common trees at Asbury Woods!

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Lecture The Importance of Trees YOT

Lecture: The Importance of Trees in Forests and Cities

Date: Wednesday, January 31
Time: 6:30 to 7:30 pm
Free, pre -registration preferred
Join us for a lecture presented by Christopher Dolanc, Ph. D. on why trees are so important to our natural ecosystems and why both human and non-human populations need trees in urban areas. This program is free thanks to a generous donation from J. Thomas Tree Service celebrating the Year of Trees.

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Backyard Maple Syrup Production YOT

Backyard Maple Syrup Production

Date: Saturday, February 10
Time:  1:00 - 3:00 pm
Supporting Donor Fee: $25
Program Fee:
It’s maple season at Asbury Woods and in your yard! Join us to learn the basics of how maple syrup was discovered, how to identify and tap a maple tree, how to process maple sap into syrup, and how to bottle the finished product. Participants will take home a sap collecting kit for use on one tree with a reference book. The program fee is per kit.

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Maple Tree Tapping YOT

Maple Tree Tapping

Dates: Saturday, February 17; February 24
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Free, no pre-registration required
Join us on to learn how to tap maple trees in a hands-on demonstration. Meet our naturalist in the exhibit hall and come dressed for the weather.

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Homeschool Maple Magic YOT

Homeschool Maple Magic

Date: Thursday, March 5
Time: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Age: 5 - 11 years old
Supporting Donor Fee: $10
Program Fee: $12
Maple Magic - Did you know that maple syrup is one of Pennsylvania’s oldest native crops? Come learn all about maple trees and their key role in Pennsylvania’s agriculture. Students will learn how maple trees make sap, how we collect it, and how we use sap to produce maple syrup. *Pre-lessons and extension activities will be included in the following PA State Standards-based activities. Parents may drop children off or choose to stay with them regardless of age.

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National Day of Forests YOT

National Day of Forests

Date: Thursday, March 21
Times: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. or 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
FREE, no pre-registration required
Celebrate National Day of Forests with a guided hike at Asbury Woods. Hikes will start at the nature center and will be 2-3 miles. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. These hikes are free thanks to a generous donation from J. Thomas Tree Service celebrating the Year of Trees.

Painting at the Woods YOT

Painting at the Woods: A Tree for All Seasons

Date: Friday, April 5
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Supporting Donor Fee: $28
Program Fee: $32
Celebrate and commemorate the Year of Trees by painting a tree for each season in 2024. With our first painting, we’ll welcome the coming of spring! All materials will be provided; all you need to bring is your creativity! Feel free to bring snacks and beverages.

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Homeschool Trees are Terrific YOT

Homeschool Trees are Terrific*

Date: Tuesday, April 2
Time: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Age: 11 - 14 years old
Supporting Donor Fee: $10
Program Fee: $12
It’s the Year of Trees at Asbury Woods! Learn about all of the great things trees do for us, how to identify several native trees, and how to protect these important living things. *Pre-lessons and extension activities will be included in the following PA State Standards-based activities. Parents may drop children off or choose to stay with them regardless of age.

Register Here

Year of Water cover

2023: The Year of Water

Water is one of the world’s most vital natural resources and our region’s strategic location adjacent to Lake Erie makes the topic of clean water and sustainable use of fresh water a matter of local, regional, national, and global significance. Whether we are drinking it, recreating in and on it, living on its shores, or using it for industry, Lake Erie and its watershed surrounds us and is an inescapable part of the fabric of our community. With Walnut Creek, a major tributary of Lake Erie, passing through Asbury Woods' property, water was a natural choice to kick off our yearly themes.

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