CONSERVATION & EDUCATION
In 2011, a group of campers saw fireflies flashing in unison at their campsite in the Allegheny National Forest. Not fully understanding the significance of what they observed, they contacted a firefly research group - the Firefly International Research & Education team (FIRE Team). In June of 2012, the FIRE Team came to Kellettville to study the fireflies of the ANF for 10 nights. They confirmed the presence of over 15 species of fireflies, including the synchronous firefly, Photinus carolinus. In 2013, a handful of local residents formed the PA Firefly Festival (PAFF) to celebrate the annual mating season of fireflies in late June. It didn’t take long for PAFF to appreciate the uniqueness of this opportunity. People flocked to recapture the nostalgia of watching fireflies on a warm summer night. It’s also an excellent way for the uninitiated to explore a new outdoor experience: going outdoors at night & observing the wonder of fireflies in the dark forest!
Daytime hours at the festival are filled with music and food, vendors and exhibits, and plenty of hands-on activities for the whole family. Then in the evening, the focus shifts to firefly watching and learning about firefly behavior, conservation and habitat preservation.
We have found endless inspiration from the fireflies, and over the years we have evolved our mission to achieving five specific goals.
Develop curricular materials and educational displays about fireflies and their habitat
Attract more scientists to the festival, increasing the quality of the educational programs
Bring firefly habitat protection and awareness to local, state and federal agencies
Enlist local residents in long-term monitoring of firefly populations
Create a summer internship, recruiting from nearby institutions of higher education