Secret Lives of Staff: Dave Lesher—Beekeeper (and much more)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

There’s much more to Penn State Behrend’s faculty and staff members than what you see on campus. In this occasional series, we’ll take a look at some of the interesting, unconventional, and inspiring things that members of our Behrend community do in their free time.


Give me a half hour with anyone and I’ll come away with a story. Every person has one. Some have more than a few. Take Dave Lesher, for example.

This piece was supposed to be about Lesher’s beekeeping hobby, but his activities, interests and talents—his “secret lives”—are many.

In addition to being a police services officer at Penn State Behrend and a beekeeper, Lesher is also a professional photographer, distance trail runner, cyclist, gardener, home brewer, clean-eater, and a website programmer/designer. Oh, and he’s also a veteran, husband, and father.

Clearly, when Lesher is interested in something, he goes all in. But serendipity plays a role in most of his ventures, too.

Twenty-five years ago, when he was working at a grocery store after having completed basic training in the U.S. Army Reserves, a coworker mentioned she was attending a municipal police training academy. Lesher enrolled a week later.

After graduation, he was hired at Behrend. It’s a job he said he has enjoyed since day one.

“I really like the people here,” he said. “In my role, I come in contact with a wide variety of people and I enjoy interacting with everyone from the janitorial staff to the Chancellor.”

He even likes educating students who have gotten themselves into a bit of trouble.

“Often, the student has just been misguided or made a mistake and the incident can be turned into a learning experience,” he said. “I’d say we can do that 95 percent of the time.”


Honey habit leads to hobby

A serious health scare a decade ago inspired Lesher to begin exercising and taking a closer look at the foods he was putting into his body. He eats clean now, avoiding processed foods, meat, caffeine, artificial dyes and additives, and most forms of sugar, with one sweet and all-natural exception—honey.

“It’s expensive, though, and I was eating a lot of it,” he said. “So I started doing some research on beekeeping and got some bee boxes.”

He found his first set of bees on Craigslist.

“This guy was tearing a house down and found the walls were full of honey-bees, so he offered them up to anyone who would come take them,” Lesher said.

“Cut-outs,” as such bee acquisitions are called, are tougher than simply scooping up a homeless swarm and encouraging them into a new home.

“With a cut-out, you’re invading their territory and they will defend it,” Lesher said. “Swarming bees are actually safer to collect. They swarm when they are looking for a new home, so they have nothing to protect and are usually happy to climb right into a bee box.”

Lesher is pleased to offer them a home, and the college’s maintenance and operations staff are just as thrilled to have someone nearby to call when swarms are found on campus.

Except for the occasional replacement queen, Lesher doesn’t buy bees. He prefers to collect native bees since they are used to Erie’s climate.

Lesher has a beekeeper’s hat, but doesn’t wear a full suit because honey-bees are rarely aggressive. He’s been stung only twice.

The average hive makes sixty to eighty pounds of honey a year, which is harvested in the fall. Only a portion of the honey is taken, however, as the bees have to have food for the winter.

“My hives are new this year, so I won’t take any honey,” he said. “I want to keep them happy so they’ll stay and produce more next year and then I can take some.”

From programming to photography to political science 101

A different kind of buzz—talk about the then-new World Wide Web—caught Lesher’s attention twenty-plus years ago. He began reading about, then dabbling in, website programming and design. He soon had paying clients (he still has some today) and a concern about finding adequate photography for their sites.

So he began reading about photography. You see where this is going, right? Today Lesher also works as a professional photographer. He shoots family portraits, senior pictures, and weddings.

Another hat he wears? College student. This fall he’ll complete his degree in General Arts and Sciences with an emphasis in Political Science.

Man in motion

You may wonder where Lesher gets the stamina to keep up all of his hobbies, jobs, and activities. It’s a strength that is, no doubt, hard earned on the trails and roads around Penn State Behrend where he’s logged thousands of miles.

Last summer, he did his first ultra run, the Megatransect, a formidable thirty-mile race up, on, and around Bald Eagle Mountain, just south of Lock Haven—with former Behrend engineering professor and trail-runner Dr. Chris Colston.

“The funny thing is that when I was in the Army, I hated running,” he said. “I never thought I’d start doing it competitively. But then I got interested in it and ended up buying the gear and doing some races and… you know, how it goes.”

Yes, with Lesher, we do know how it goes now—all the way.


8 fun honey-bee facts

  1. Honey-bees are not native to the United States. They were imported by European settlers.
  2. Honey-bees, while instinctual, aren’t very smart. “I have to have different landing strips on my hives or the bees will go in the wrong hive and be killed as invaders,” Lesher said.
  3. Honey-bees use dances to communicate. For example, when honey-bees find food, they do a choreographed “waggle” dance that instructs the rest of the hive where to find a food source.
  4. Honey-bees keep each other warm and fed over winter. Honey-bees keep the hive at about 92 degrees in winter, feasting on the honey they have collected all summer.
  5. Honey is harvested in the fall. Hives typically contain about sixty to eighty pounds of honey; some must be left for the bees to eat.
  6. Unhappy honey-bees will leave. If conditions in the hive are not suitable, the queen will call for a swarm and they’ll swarm and depart.
  7. The honey-bee queen is the sole reproductive female in the colony. She lays 1,000-to-3,000 eggs per day. Female worker bees perform all other colony duties. Male drones exist only to mate with a virgin queen.
  8. Drones are dead before winter. Drones are a liability to the wintering hive and are not allowed in after fall, so they die outside.


Collecting a swarm

Lesher provided this video of a swarm he collected:


Pre-Health students sew first stitches in medical career

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend


Suturing—sewing together incisions or torn flesh—is a basic technique every doctor must master. It is, however, a skill that few undergraduate students have the opportunity to practice before entering medical school. But, thanks to the U.S. Army and Penn State Behrend’s Pre-Health Professions program, nearly thirty undergraduate students from four area universities were able to try their hand at three types of basic stitches at a suturing seminar earlier this month.

The class, offered by the Army Health Care Recruiting office in Pittsburgh and held at Penn State Behrend, was taught by Dr. Regan Shabloski, assistant dean for clinical education at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, and a member of the Army National Guard’s Medical Corps.

For two hours, students from Penn State Behrend, Allegheny College, Gannon University, and Mercyhurst University worked on severed pigs’ feet, practicing simple interrupted, running, and mattress stitches, using suturing kits provided by the Army.


Shabloski taught students how to hold the tools, how to start and finish stitching, how to know which stitches to use, how to choose the proper sutures, and the importance of symmetrical sewing.

Straight, evenly spaced stitches are paramount for patients.

“Neatness counts,” Shabloski said as he moved around the room, peering over shoulders at the students’ work. “Suture scars are one of the most visible reminders of your work. Patients care deeply what their scars look like, even if they are in a place where nobody will ever see them.”

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Earle and Staff Sgt. Ricardo Grey, both Army medics, were on hand to assist Shabloski with training.


The event was sponsored by the Army to bring attention to its Health Professions Scholarship Program, which provides tuition for up to four years of medical school to students pursuing an education at any accredited medical, dental, optometry, clinical or counseling psychology, or veterinary school, in exchange for a four-year commitment to working on an Army base after graduation.

“Students have to apply for this program before they enter medical school, and we were finding that many didn’t know about it until it was too late, so we’ve been making an effort to reach students at the undergraduate level and make them aware of the opportunities available to them through the Army,” Earle said.

Earle is quick to point out that being a doctor in the military does not necessarily mean working in a combat zone.

“We have Army bases all over the world, and on those bases, we have a tremendous need for all kinds of doctors for our soldiers and their families,” Earle said. “We need all the same doctors and specialists that are found in civilian life — OB/GYNs, pediatricians, general practitioners, dentists, and even veterinarians.”

Christina Hilaire, a junior Biology major who wants to be a doctor, participated in the suturing class and said the scholarship program is worth exploring.

“My mother was in the military, so I’ve thought about it,” Hilaire said.

“It is a pretty sweet deal for students inclined to spend a few years working at a military base,” said Dr. Michael Justik, associate professor of chemistry and chair for the Pre-Health Professions programs. Justik helped bring the suturing class to Behrend.

Among the perks? Full tuition paid directly to the medical school, a $20,000 signing bonus, a $2,000+ monthly living stipend, and health insurance, in addition to coverage of school-related expenses, including books, fees, and medical supplies.

It’s a deal that, according to Earle, only gets sweeter after graduation when the newly-minted doctors are admitted to the Army at the level of an officer.

“They are able to practice medicine at Army bases throughout the world without concerns about billing, overhead expenses, or malpractice premiums,” he said. “Many enjoy the lifestyle and stay in the service past their required commitment,” Earle said. “But, even if they don’t and they only put in their four years, we feel that’s a fair deal.”

The military recruits medical professionals in northwestern Pennsylvania because it’s rich in universities and medical facilities.

“Erie is a wonderful place to prepare for a medical career,” Justik said. “We have three hospitals in the area as well as LECOM, a top osteopathic medical school, all of which provide various learning opportunities for pre-health students.”

Here is what some of the students had to say about the suturing experience at Behrend:

  • “It was a fantastic event that helped solidify my career choice. I want to be a surgeon and the suturing class made me realize that it really is what I want to do for a living.” — Stephen Wells, a Penn State Behrend senior Biology major.
  • “It was really helpful to have Dr. Shabloski and the Army medics right there helping us and giving us tips. I took a similar suturing class in high school, but I learned some new and different techniques in this class.” —Thalia Soto, a Penn State Behrend sophomore majoring in Chemistry. Soto wants to be a pediatric surgeon.
  • “I really enjoyed it because it was an opportunity to do some hands-on learning, which is not often a part of the pre-med curriculum.” —Margaret Dunlop, a Penn State Behrend sophomore majoring in Psychology. Dunlop wants to be an orthopedic surgeon.
  • “The suturing class was a great learning experience in a fun, low-pressure setting. It was an excellent opportunity to do one of the many tasks that doctors and health professionals perform almost daily.” — Bethany Kelley, a Mercyhurst University sophomore Pre-Medical major. Kelley wants to be a physician assistant.

Click here for more information about Penn State Behrend’s Pre-Health Professions programs.

Click here or email for more information about the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program.

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Follow Emma and Dan’s Route 6 Journey


By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

A flyer for Emma and Dan’s Route 6 Journey hangs from the fridge at the Harborcreek home of the Perritano family. Sixteen-year-old Emma Perritano’s face lights up whenever she catches a glimpse of it.

So far, she is enjoying the journey, eagerly waving her hands when they pass someone on the street. All the while, humming her favorite songs, a collection of tunes from Wicked, Disney movies and some old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll.

Her parents, Penn State Behrend men’s soccer coach Dan Perritano and college registrar Jane Brady, said it’s exactly what they hoped for.

“I wanted to take Emma and do something special,” Dan Perritano said. “While she doesn’t understand what we’re doing completely, she points to that flyer now, and she knows we’re doing something special.”

What they’re doing is a 360-mile trek across Pennsylvania’s historic Route 6 to help raise funds for the Arc of Erie County. Emma is a non-verbal life skills student at North East Middle School and has benefitted from the Arc, which provides advocacy and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Dan is pushing Emma in her Team Hoyt running chair, a custom-built chair designed for physically-challenged individuals that was purchased through grants from ACHIEVA and Billy’s Friends Foundation, two non-profit organizations for persons with disabilities. The two have already begun checking off some of the western miles on Route 6 during weekend outings.

The duo hopes to finish at least 100 miles before setting out on May 18 to finish the trip.

“Once we get on the road, we aren’t coming back,” said Perritano, who will use the MapMyWalk app to track completed miles.

Perritano said the two average about 15-minute miles when moving consistently, and he hopes to do between 15 to 20 miles per day.

“The plan is to do 10 or 11 miles in the morning, have lunch and then do maybe another 10 in the afternoon,” he said.

Perritano said they won’t carry many supplies and will mostly rely on purchasing things on the go.

However, if supplies get too low, Perritano does have a lifeline.

“I can’t imagine them going three of four days without me coming to the rescue,” Brady said.

Perritano plans to finish the journey on May 30, but knows challenges could arise. Hazardous weather could cause a delay, so he said the completion date is tentative.

“It’s going to be so rewarding,” Perritano said. “It’s something special that we will always remember.”

To learn more about the Arc or how you can contribute to Emma and Dan’s Journey, please visit their website at or contact Arc president Dr. Karen Morahan at or Dan Perritano at

Follow Emma and Dan’s Journey on their Facebook page.

Paint the campus purple for #AJO


From left, Anthony Cremonese, Melissa Lichtinger, and Antoine Holman are part of the student team working on the #AJO Forever Foundation website.

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Melissa Lichtinger, a senior majoring in international business and marketing, was working at the Make a Wish booth at a women’s expo in Erie this October when she met Alyssa O’Neill’s father, Jason, and knew she wanted to do whatever she could to help with the #AJO campaign.

AJO stands for Alyssa J. O’Neill, 18, who was a first-year student at Penn State Behrend when she died after suffering a grand mal seizure at home. The day before her death, O’Neill had texted her mother, saying they should meet at Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte. After her funeral, her parents, Jason and Sarah, bought ten of the drinks for strangers. The barista marked the cups—using purple, a color associated with epilepsy awareness—with #AJO.

That spurred a far broader pay-it-forward campaign. People paid for strangers’ meals, gas, groceries and layaway purchases. They sent #AJO photos from London, Iraq and the Canary Islands. It’s still going. The #AJO Forever in Our Hearts Facebook page has more than 41,000 “likes.”

“Jason said that he and his wife were overwhelmed just trying to keep up with the photos and correspondence pouring in through the AJO  Facebook page,” Lichtinger said. “I wondered how, with my background in marketing, I could help them.”

She asked Dr. Kathleen Noce, senior lecturer in management information systems, if Partnership Erie, a nonprofit outreach extension of the Sam and Irene Black School of Business, could develop a new eCommerce website and social media strategy for the AJO Forever foundation.

Noce agreed and Lichtinger recruited four more students—Anthony Cremonese, Antoine Holman, Kelsie Noce, and Michael Thompson—to work on the project with her.

The new site is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

But Lichtinger didn’t think that was enough. “I really wanted to do something to raise money for the foundation,” she said.

So she talked to Rhonda Reynolds, a Housing and Food Services employee who helped create a very successful employee service committee, and together they came up with the idea to “paint the campus purple” on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Students, faculty, and staff are all invited to wear purple and take part in making the letters #AJO for a group photo on Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. in the Clark Café in the Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center. Participants are asked to give at least $2 to the AJO Forever Fund to be a part of the photo.

Students will begin collecting donations at 3 p.m. The first 200 to donate will receive a free purple hat!

The event is sponsored by The Sam and Irene Black School of Business, Partnership Erie, Behrend Commission for Women, the School of Nursing, and Grimm’s Embroidery.

Hope to see you there!

Women in Engineering: Q & A with Alumna, Erie Traffic Engineer

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Tomorrow (Fri., Nov. 22) is Woman in Engineering (WIE) day at Penn State Behrend. This outreach program is designed to teach girls in 10th and 11th grade what an engineer does and what kinds of careers are available in the field.  This year, a record 167 girls from 17 schools will participate in hands-on and interactive activities/workshops, many of which are taught by practicing female engineers from the Erie area.

We caught up with one such woman, LeAnn Parmenter, 47, who attended Behrend from 1984 to 1986 before moving to University Park to complete her degree in Civil Engineering.   (By the way, it wasn’t all that easy to catch up with Parmenter. In her spare time she’s an avid triathlete and runner who just completed her first marathon and is currently training for her first Ironman next summer.)

Parmenter has been the City of Erie’s traffic engineer for the past seven years.

leann parmenter

LeAnn Parmenter ’88, City of Erie Traffic Engineer

Q. What is civil engineering? What are your job duties?

Traffic/transportation is just one sub-discipline of civil engineering.  As the City’s traffic engineer, I am responsible for all operations relating to the traffic signals, lighting, signing, and marking.

Q. What did you do before you came to Erie?

I worked for the Maryland State Highway Administration and Howard County Public Works Department where I did intersection and interchange design and project management. After working in a larger city and coming back to Erie, I hoped I could make a difference and bring about some change that is needed. However, it all takes time and money. I’m confident we will get there…slowly but surely.

Q. What do you enjoy about civil engineering?

I enjoy the fact that you can design, advertise, and construct a project and feel a sense of accomplishment after your project is constructed.

Q. What do you not enjoy about your job?

Complaining. But when you work for a public agency, it comes with the territory.

Q. What is it like to be a woman (a minority) in the field of engineering?

As with many male dominated careers, you have to battle some bias from time to time. It’s better now than it used to be, but there are situations in which you have to be strong. You can’t be afraid to shake up a traditionally male mindset.  Women bring a different perspective to the table and it’s important that be represented because, well, we do make up half the population.

Q. When you were in engineering school, were you one of the only women in your major?

There were probably only 10 other women in Civil Engineering at Penn State and fewer in my Master’s Program at University of Maryland. I’m not sure the numbers have changed much. Civil engineering isn’t the most glamorous of the engineering fields. Most of my career has been spent working with men in construction, inspection, police force, streets department, and engineering services.

Q. As a girl, what appealed to you about engineering?

I always enjoyed math and I had some encouraging teachers along the way.

Q. Were you the kid taking apart toasters to see how they worked?

(laughs)  No, I didn’t take apart toasters, but my father worked in construction and I always enjoyed being part of a construction project.

Q. Are people ever surprised to find out you’re an engineer? If so, why?

I don’t fit the stereotype of an engineer, so they’re sometimes surprised. Though, once I tell them what I do, the complaints begin! (laughs)

Q. You’re a wife and mother (she and her husband, Jeff Seevers, have two children, Jenna, 10, and Jason, 11), has this been a career that worked for you as a mother?

I have been lucky to have worked for employers that are supportive of my family life. I worked in Baltimore for 14 years, then moved back to North East after my daughter was born. I worked two days a week, flying from Buffalo to Baltimore for two years. Then, I started working part time for the City of Erie. They’ve been great.  I will say that I gave up some earning potential in return for flexibility and more time with my children, but that’s something that many working mothers have to deal with, no matter what their career.

Q. What advice do you have for young women considering a career in civil engineering?

There are many facets of civil engineering (transportation, structural, geotechnical, environmental, and water resources). Try to expose yourself to all of those and get a broad knowledge base of each so that you can make an informed decision about what you would enjoy doing for the rest of your career. Engineering, in general, can be a very rewarding career path, but you should choose an area that really interests you.

Q. What do you remember about your time here at Behrend?

I loved my two years at Behrend. I had studied abroad in Japan during high school, so I wanted to stay close to home for college. Penn State Behrend gave me that opportunity. I live on campus for two years before I went to University Park. The friends I lived with in my freshman year at Behrend are still some of my closest friends today. And we are all very Penn State PROUD!

Q. Are there any professors or classes you remember here at Behrend that stood out as being particularly helpful?

I took most of my entry level engineering classes at Behrend with a smaller number of students than I would later see at University Park. It was nice to take these core classes in a smaller environment with professors that were accessible and helpful. I remember Dr. Lasher pretty well.

Q. How can we get more girls interested in engineering?

I think we need to encourage them to think big and let them know they can be anything they want to. I always hear, “engineering is difficult” or “math is hard” – well, yeah, it is, but instead of letting our girls off the hook, we should be challenging them.  They can do it. Also, we need to expose them to the wonders of engineering and show them that it can be a really fun and exciting career path.

That’s exactly what the Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering plans to do on Friday.

Behrend students humbled by poverty simulation


By Steve Orbanek
Marketing and Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

According to the United States Census, 15 percent of Americans, roughly 46.5 million people, live at or below the government-defined poverty line.

For an hour this fall, Khardiata Mbengue and Teireik Williams could be counted among that group.

Mbengue and Williams were participants in a poverty simulation sponsored by the Office of Educational Equity & Diversity Programs and the Human Relations Programming Council.

The simulation is designed to help participants understand what it’s like to live in a low-income family, surviving from month to month. Individuals are grouped together as families and are tasked with providing for basic necessities and shelter during the course of four 15-minute “weeks.”

For Mbengue, a junior biology major, and Williams, a sophomore communication and creative writing double major, the simulation was a humbling experience.

The two were paired up as husband and wife as part of the simulation.

I caught up with them to get their thoughts on the program…

Steve: Hi Khardita and Teireik. Thanks for taking the time to join me today. So, to start, why don’t you provide me with a general overview on the poverty simulation?

Khardiata: The poverty simulation is basically designed to help you get insight on how you would live if you were less fortunate or part of a low-income family. Going through the poverty simulation makes you realize how people often live in impoverished conditions even when it’s not their own fault. The system is against them, so they can never work their way up. You also realize that you’re never too far away from the life that they live. After college, we might be doing the same thing that we were doing in the poverty simulation.

Teireik: The poverty simulation provided us with an opportunity to have the same responsibilities of a person who is poverty stricken. It was really designed for you to live a day in the life of the less fortunate.

Steve: How exactly was the simulation set up?

Teireik: The room is divided into different circles, and each circle had chairs that represented a family. Surrounding the housesholds were all of the different businesses and organizations that you had to visit. You also had to purchase a transportation pass for anywhere that you would go. Before the simulation, they gave you a portfolio that had every aspect of your life: how old you were, your family’s history, your savings and your belongings. Everybody’s budget was different. We had savings, and everybody had possessions and things that could be sold for extra money.

Khardiata: And there was a cop, so you could go to jail if you did something wrong.


Steve: Wow, so you could break the law during the simulation?

Khardiata: Someone actually did that, and that person was the only one in the entire simulation who was able to pay their own bills. It just goes to show that it can be difficult to survive, even if you live an honest life. It puts you in a situation where you do what you have to do.

Steve: So, can you give me an idea of what a typical day was like for the both of you?

Teireik: She had to go to work, we had to take the kids to school, we had to pay bills, we had to sign up for benefits like food stamps, and we had to sell our belongings if we ran out of money.

Khardiata: I literally had to run to work, so I would be there on time to receive the full benefits of my work. Even if your child did something wrong at school, it would affect your whole life.

Steve: What do you mean?

Teireik: Our daughter got suspended at school, so one of us had to be at home to take care of her. Khardiata had to go to work, so I was unable go out and pay our bills, search for a job or apply for benefits.


Steve: It seems like the simulation required you to balance a lot of different responsibilities. How humbling was this experience for you?

Khardiata: It was incredibly humbling. It showed me that you should be grateful for everything you have because not everyone is as fortunate. We did this for an hour, but the fact is that many people actually live this life. That was eye-opening for me.

Steve: People living in poverty sometimes get a bit of a bad reputation. Did this change your perspective on them at all?

Khardiata: When I went into the Poverty Simulation, I had that same idea. I thought that if people are in poverty, they could work themselves out. But my opinion changed after living through it. We were doing all we could just to pay our bills and raise the kids, but it still was not enough. Expenses pile up on top of each other. As soon as you thought you had something handled, something else would pop up. That was a major thing that I learned.

Teireik: This simulation shows that not everyone is afforded the same opportunities, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. It’s just out of their control. It’s not necessarily their fault, but they get a bad reputation for it.

Steve: This was the second year for the Poverty Simulation at Behrend. Is this something that you would recommend to others?

Khardiata: Yes, definitely I would. It makes you think, what if this does happen to me? It’s not farfetched to think that it could happen to you. It’s a very realistic thing, and it humbles you a bit. As college students, we seem to think that we’re all struggling, but it’s not as bad as it seems.

Teireik: People should definitely experience it. If you get an opportunity to do something like this, why not? It’s much better to experience poverty through a simulation rather than for real.

Students: Join us on Monday for unveiling of PSLH


Penn Staters make an impact everywhere. Now, there’s a brand initiative that puts it right out there.

The University will introduce the initiative on Saturday, October 12 during halftime of the Michigan game in Beaver Stadium. Penn State Behrend will be unveiling the brand message on Monday (October 14), and students are invited to be part of the announcement.

At 11 a.m., Lilley Library Lawn:
Come watch as your fellow students unfurl a big banner with the theme of PSLH (that’s your only hint!) from the balcony of Lilley Library facing the Bayfront Highway. If you can attend, you’ll see the action from the lawn just below.

At 12:15 p.m, Bruno’s Cafe:
See a short yet dynamic video, grab a cookie, and get your free theme button and vinyl window cling–while supplies last!

Join us Monday to see and hear just how PSLH.

Campus running routes, 5Ks, and more


By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

With more than 850 acres of property in beautiful Harborcreek Township, Penn State Behrend’s campus is a runner’s paradise.

Offering everything from paved paths to cross-country paths through fields to rugged trails through the Wintergreen Gorge to a brand new 8-lane competition-level track, you’ll never run out of places to…well, run at Behrend.

Another thing you’ll never run out of here? Hills. Just try to find a route around this campus that doesn’t include hills (not counting doing circles around the track!). The good thing, though, is that hills will make you a better, stronger, and faster runner/walker and you’ll learn to love them (or you’ll love to hate them).

In winter, the campus paths are well maintained and lighted, making it a safe alternative in the dark, snowy days of winter. And, yes, you should run outside in winter — it’s spectacular! (But, please be safety minded and run with a friend, or two…or ten).

I have several routes I like to run around campus with friends, including (click on the links for a map on

* A 5-mile Summer Loop.  This route starts on the Bayfront Bikeway trail (back corner of Erie lot) and winds its way down Shannon to Cooper Road and back up to campus via the Wintergreen Gorge trail before heading up to Knowledge Park to loop through the wooded paths and circle back to the parking lot.

* A 5-mile Winter Loop. This is much like my summer loop, but it cuts out the Wintergreen Gorge portion as it’s not safe to run through there in the winter (it’s not plowed or lighted) and we spend a little more time in Knowledge Park, which is both lighted, plowed.

* A 5K (3.1 miles) from Junker Center. This is a challenging course thanks to the giant hill that is old Station Road.

* A 12.5-miler from Knowledge Park. In the mood to go long? This is a fairly simple long run route takes advantage of the peaceful country roads you’ll find south of campus.

* A simple 1.5-mile loop in Knowledge Park. It may sound boring to loop, but Knowledge Park is wooded and beautiful any time of the year and, after 6 p.m., there is virtually no traffic, but plenty of street light.

Want more options?

Just search for “Behrend” on and you’ll find a whole list of running routes that other people planned, including some trail runs mapped by police services officer Dave Lesher and a nice  8-miler (beware of Kane Hill…it is, um, a challenge!) mapped by Chris Coulston, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Of course you can also map your own route. If you do, be sure to “unlock” it so the rest of us can try your route, too!

A few words about safety

Again, please run with a friend (or a few) because some of the routes I listed above take you into isolated areas that don’t see much traffic. There is safety in numbers.

And, of course, heed the basic rules of runner safety, including wearing reflective gear (white won’t cut it).

Racing around Behrend

Ready to test your meddle? You’ve got two opportunities to race around campus in October, which is, of course, one of the most gorgeous times to run on campus!

The Harvest Hoof-It is a 5K run or a 2.5-mile fun walk on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 9 a.m. sponsored by WCTL, Erie’s Christian radio station. More info/application here.

The Penn State Behrend cross-country team is hosting a Twilight 5K at Behrend on Friday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. The Twilight event includes a 5K run, a 2-mile fun walk and a kids’ race, too. More info/application will be posted here.

~ Heather

P.S. If you have questions about running at Behrend, or the upcoming races, feel free to email me at hjc13 at