2014 Fall Member Meeting

We are excited to announce that our Fall Member Meeting this year will be hosted at the gorgeous site of the International Conservation Center in Fairhope, PA. The International Conservation Center (ICC) is North America’s premier conservation, research, education and training facility, specializing in the care and breeding of African elephants. ICC is owned and operated by the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium and is located on 724 beautiful acres in Somerset County, PA.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We’re asking that you RSVP if you plan to attend by 10/24/14 so that we have enough food for everyone. $10 donation at door welcome.

To RSVP call 814-863-7192 or e-mail

Fall 2014 Speakers:

A former PA-TACF Chapter President, Philip J. Gruszka, currently advises the Conservancy and the City’s Department of Public Works on horticultural and ecological issues facing Pittsburgh’s parks. Mr. Gruszka received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from the University of Illinois and has since emerged as a leader in testing historically significant populations of trees and their contemporary replacements for genetic diversity and developing protocols for managing those historic collections. Mr. Gruszka was the leader in developing a tree action plan for the City of Pittsburgh when emerald ash borer and oak wilt disease began to kill thousands of trees within the city. He’ll speak with us about how the American chestnut breeding programs have informed efforts to mitigate tree losses.

Dr. Katia Engelhardt is a Research Associate Professor who received her Ph.D. from Utah State University in 2000 and since then has been at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Appalachian Lab where she is studying the ecological consequences of changes in genetic and species diversity. Over the last two years, Dr. Engelhardt has worked with over 100 citizen scientists in western Maryland who adopt one or more American chestnuts and report back their growth and survival using FieldScope, an internet tool developed by National Geographic. Results of the study will determine which sources of trees are better adapted to the western MD climate and should therefore be targeted for breeding the next generation of locally adapted trees.

Dayton Baker is the manager of the International Conservation Center, our host  for this years meeting. He holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Purdue University and a master’s in both wildlife biology and education. He previously worked at the Pittsburgh Zoo, helping establish its conservation research department, before becoming director of the aviary, a position he held for 15 years. He also curated the “Farm in the Zoo” — a model working farm at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Dayton will speak to us about the work of the Conservation Center and will also lead tours of the facility.

Members of the PA-TACF Chapter board will be offering afternoon workshops for volunteers. More info to come.