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HONESDALE – The Wayne Conservation District and the Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society teamed up to bring the lush Habitat Mural in the Conservation District office in Honesdale to life, virtually speaking.
The two organizations worked together to create an interactive video exploration of the densely populated mural, created by Katharine Dodge and Helena Guindon from 2013 and 2017. The large painting depicts a wide array of Wayne County flora and fauna in summer, autumn, winter and spring. Various items of taxidermy and props give the mural a three-dimensional quality.
Conservation District Watershed Specialist Colleen Campion, who worked with the Audubon Society on the project, said the virtual tour starts with the Fall Section of the mural and the other seasons will be added during the year ahead.
Accompanied by the sounds of the forest, streams and creatures, the tour explores the intricacies of the mural and its inhabitants -- from a timber rattlesnake tucked under a rock to the rare northern flying squirrel snug in his tree house -- through a series of interactive points on the image that offer information about each species of animal.
It also identifies and provides some basic information about the trees and plants, even the moss and mushrooms. There are also points of discussion on stream orders and why the tree leaves change colors, along with providing an autumn scavenger hunt and even a bit of fall poetry.
“When I volunteered to paint this mural, it was on the condition that it would be used for educational purposes,” said Katharine Dodge. “What Colleen has accomplished in this virtual version is so appropriate for this time of virtual learning. I hope people of all ages find it useful.”
From everyday office walk-ins to scheduled school and camp trips, the mural plays a huge role in our educational programming each year,” said Campion. “It is a pleasure to work on bringing it to life in a new way so that the public can still connect with it, even from home.”
“The mural was painted with such amazing detail, and it’s evident that so much thought and attention went into each part,” Campion explained. “At one point, when I was sitting in the woods recording audio for this fall section, a large buck walked right by me and I joked with Kathy, later on, that it felt like I was right there in the mural. That’s how well it truly captures the nature of this area.”
While virtual tours of the other seasonal sections of the Habitat Mural will be released throughout the year, Campion said she ultimately hopes to add narration to the videos.