Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center
Hans’ second wife Frannie, contributed to the history of the Berks County in her own way. She was one of the nation’s early women pilots, commanded Reading’s Civil Air Patrol courier base during World War II, and she later won the women’s transcontinental Powder Puff Derby, and eventually became a full colonel in the Civil Air Patrol. Hans and Frannie raised a melded family of seven children in the mansion, and during the war Hans helped Nolde & Horst produce wartime parts and GI socks and gloves.
Today, Nolde Forest Environmental Education is dedicated to helping our visitors and community develop a sound environmental ethic based upon science. A variety of environmental education programming is offered throughout the year. Students engage in guided, hands on activities while exploring and learning about unique ecosystems to further their awareness, appreciation, and knowledge of the natural environment. Using discovery and problem-solving, teachers and students explore different aspects of the environment, developing concepts and skills to learn about the role we play within the web of life, and become effective environmental decision-makers. Nolde Forest also serves as an outdoor laboratory for visiting biologists, college students, and natural resource professionals involved in a variety of environmental studies and research topics, including water quality, small mammals, reptiles, forest succession, and songbirds. Nolde Forest encompasses 725 acres with a network of ten miles of walking trails that wander through the mature woodlands. The land in rich in biodiversity and continues to be a source of pride for Pennsylvania and the Nolde family. Public programs are posted on the DCNR Calendar of Events / Nolde Forest where those interested can register to participate. Nolde Forest trails are open to walkers from sunrise to sunset. Clubs and organizations that wish to gather must request to obtain a permit prior to meeting. Environmental Education programming is the priority at Environmental Education Centers administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The Friends of Nolde Forest host Open House events and tours on the first Sunday of each month, excluding July. Visitors to the Open House events can learn more about the history of the Nolde Forest and home from a video narrated by Hans and Frannie’s two youngest children. Signs located throughout Nolde Forest also offer information about the Nolde family and the forest ecosystem.
You can enjoy the more than 665 acres of forest that continues to be source of pride for the family to this day, populated by deciduous woodlands and coniferous plantations. More than 10 miles of hiking trails wander throughout the park under tall trees and near creeks. A portion of the trails are footpaths and others are parts of old gravel roads that were used by the original owners. Numerous connectors join all of the trails into a continuous loop.