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Halloween Haunts at JC

A cool wind blows across campus. Jack o’ landers glow at night; the faint sound of Michael Jackson’s Thriller can be heard in the distance. It’s officially Halloween at Juniata!

Pumpkins decorate the campus here at JC
Pumpkins decorate the campus here at JC

Throughout the last couple of weeks, we students have been very busy celebrating the arrival of Fall and all the seasonal joys that come along with it. The Juniata Activities Board annually hosts Festifall – a celebration of all things Fall that includes pumpkin carving, horseback carriage rides, hot chocolate, a costume contest, and much much more! The best part of Festifall is sitting around the fire with your friends, enjoying warm apple cider, and totally not procrastinating on homework.

What’s that? You can’t make it to Festifall? No worries! There are plenty of other events to attend. Just last week, the Social Dance Club hosted a Halloween dance where students dressed up in their costumes and learned common Halloween dances. A big plus is that Juniatians are very artistic, so you’ll always see some very intricate or super interesting costume designs. We also recently had a Haunted Walk put on by the Wild Hunters of Juniata where students traveled through a path in the forest to be scared by tons of spooky surprises.

Hallway costume pictures - a college classic
Hallway costume pictures – a college classic

Today is officially Halloween and that means trick or treating! Every year, Juniata students team up to decorate the lounges of our residence halls to get in the spirit of Halloween. Then, we invite the children from in town to come trick or treat on campus! It’s always a great time seeing the children gawk at everyone’s costumes and the awesome decorations we’ve put up to invite them into our halls.

The various events that I’ve described are only a few of the many traditions we observe here at Juniata. If you’re looking for a school that’s big on traditions and big on community, then Juniata might be the place for you!

Third time’s the charm

It is now my senior year at Juniata, and for the third time, I traveled to Quebec during fall break (October 11th to the 14th). Unlike previous years, this trip was something that I especially looking forward to for several reasons:

Fall break this year came about 2 days after the Fulbright program’s deadline. The application process was very challenging, and by far, it has been the most difficult application that I have written. I applied for a linguistics research Fulbright in Cote d’Ivoire, a project that stemmed from my internship in Strasbourg, France in the Spring of 2018. I worked diligently with a cadre of faculty members who pushed me to craft a competitive and compelling research project. The process got overwhelming and intense at times, so after the Oct. 9th deadline, I was excited to travel to Quebec and celebrate, alongside another Fulbright applicant and a friend of mine, Annaleigh Baremore.

Annaleigh and I are French club officers and worked together to plan this trip, despite meeting many obstacles. First, the Quebec trip did not occur during the previous year when Annaleigh and I were abroad. Professor Henderson who is head of the French department and also the club’s advisor was away on sabbatical. As seniors, Annaleigh and I wanted to bring this trip back, and travel to Quebec one last time. Another issue that we encountered was the high cost of transport, which almost canceled the trip. However, at the very last minute, the Office of Student of Activities gave us a minivan and two vehicles to go to Canada!

Posing for a group photo!
Posing for a group photo!

This 3rd trip to Canada was in my opinion the best because we had a diverse cadre of students. The trips were previously dominated by French speakers, but this time we had students who spoke Spanish, Korean, German and Hindi. I was happy to see them participating and learning about francophone cultures. They all tried poutine, maple syrups, all specialty of Canada. In addition, because we all shared various backgrounds, we tried other cultural foods: we went to a Korean restaurant in Montreal called Kantapia and drank some bubble tea at Chai. Once in Quebec City, we had dinner at a Cambodian restaurant and tried a delicious tapioca desert!

Although the experience was tiring, given that we had a 12hours ride back to campus, I would do it once again if could. As it is my last year at Juniata, I will be looking at various memories such as this trip to smile back on.

Wings on the Ridge

By guest blogger, Aidan Griffiths ’22

The annual hawk migration is an incredible sight if you're in the right spot! Photo credit: Annemarie Sciarra
The annual hawk migration is an incredible sight if you’re in the right spot! Photo credit: Annemarie Sciarra

There’s nothing quite like Fall hawk migration. Hundreds of thousands of birds of prey take advantage of the favorable Autumn winds and migrate south for the winter, sometimes grouping together in flocks of hundreds or even thousands of individuals at a time. Many enthusiastic observers gather each year to watch this amazing phenomenon, and it just so happens that Central Pennsylvania is one of the best areas in the country to do so. These majestic birds follow the abundant mountain ridges in Huntingdon and surrounding counties because the updraft of air off the mountain slopes helps them achieve lift. They also ride the warm currents of air, called thermals, that rise off the surrounding land. This allows observers to get fantastic views of many raptor species as they ride these thermals to the top and sail over the mountain. On October Seventh, the Juniata College Chapter of the Wildlife Society traveled to the Stone Mountain hawk-watching site in northern Huntingdon County to do just that!

Seven of us Wildlifers met bright and early (for a Sunday) at 9 AM behind Brumbaugh Academic Center. We took inventory, did some quick introductions, and carpooled up to Stone Mountain. On the ride up, we weren’t very optimistic about our chances of seeing good raptor activity. The winds were blowing from the South, which is the wrong direction for birds that want to end up there. Perhaps more to the point, there was a pea-soup fog that seemed to get thicker the farther up the mountain we got. When we finally got out of our vehicles, we could barely see six feet in front of us, and the rocky path leading up to the hawkwatch was wet and slippery. Nevertheless, we made the brief trek up to the platform. The view we had was such that we wouldn’t have been able to tell a hawk apart from our left knee, but we did have some nice birds at the summit. A small flock of Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, and other songbirds greeted us with little chirps and squeaks while we waited for the mid-morning sun to burn off the fog. Our formal guide, Luke Fultz, had informed the leaders earlier in the morning that he wouldn’t be arriving until ten o’clock, and we were starting to wonder if we should have done the same. However, as the warmth of the rising sun increased, the fog burned off and blew away, and were left with a gorgeous view of Central Pennsylvania valleys and Jack’s Mountain on the ridge opposite us. And, of course, the dissipating fog heralded the arrival of our birds!

Trying to see through the fog. Photo credit Annemarie Sciarra
Trying to see through the fog. Photo credit Annemarie Sciarra

At about 10:30, we started seeing our first migrants. A group of four Tree Swallows passed daintily overhead heading south. Several groups of Turkey Vultures started lifting off and soaring over the ridge, some cruising right by us. In one group that we saw from above, we noticed another vulture species: A Black Vulture. The sun shone brilliantly off its plumage, and we were able to see the telltale silver wingtips and difference in size and shape compared to the nearby Turkey Vultures. Around this time, Luke and his friend Desmond arrived. He gave us a brief lesson about raptor identification and passed out some laminated fliers showing them in flight. Not long after, a Common Raven and a beautiful female Northern Harrier gave us amazing views as they passed the platform. We also had some songbird migrants overhead: a few warblers that zipped by too fast to identify and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. In the midday sun, many of us found we were baking in our sweatshirts and long pants, so we shed as many layers as was appropriate for an academic setting.

Our trusted leader, Luke Fultz. Photo credit: Annemarie Sciarra
Our trusted leader, Luke Fultz. Photo credit: Annemarie Sciarra

About this time, Greg Grove, the regional eBird reviewer for Huntingdon County, arrived at the platform. A brief digression: For those of you who don’t know what eBird is (which is probably most of you), it is an online citizen science database where birders can submit their sightings, view other people’s sightings, and learn more about the birds of the world. It’s also a great resource for scientists and conservationists who want to learn more about the status of various populations of birds. Greg and his wife have been birding in Huntingdon for over twenty years, and Greg is one of the primary hawk counters for the Stone Mountain site. He helped us recognize the differences between Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks. He pointed out the “top heavy” appearance, smaller size, and more fluttery flight of the Sharp-shinned compared to its larger, more fearsome-looking cousin. A couple male American Kestrels, North America’s smallest falcon, also sailed by the platform and wowed us with their beautiful blue, orange, and white plumage. A distant Red-tailed Hawk and another Raven concluded the day’s count. We thanked Luke and Greg for their help, gathered our things, and descended back down towards the parking lot. On our way down, we demonstrated our aptitude for non-bird wildlife observation when one of our leaders spotted a snake sunning itself on a rock. Unfortunately, it saw us and darted into the craggy rocks before we could identify it. When we arrived back at the cars, we rolled down the windows, grateful for the opportunity to cool off. On our way back to campus, we reveled in our success. It was a great day with great birds and great weather, shared by great people! It was definitely one of my favorite college experiences thus far!

Fall break spent chasing waterfalls

Last week was fall break. This year it happened to line up with my older sister’s fall break which has never happened before. My mother decided we should all meet up and do a girl’s trip for a few days. We decided that Asheville, NC was a good midpoint between Huntingdon, Annapolis and New Orleans.

We started out by going shopping in the adorably artsy town that is Asheville. My mother bought so much Tupelo honey that she actually had to check her bag on the flight home. We also tried on a million pairs of shoes, several were described by my mother as ‘feeling like a butter’. Yes, apparently shoes can feel like a single butter.

My sister and I at the Bad Fork Valley Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway – unfortunately there is no such thing as the Good Spoon Valley… we looked.
My sister and I at the Bad Fork Valley Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway – unfortunately there is no such thing as the Good Spoon Valley… we looked.

Our next stop after shopping was the Asheville Pinball Museum. I’ve never been a museum person but this one was incredible. We spent hours playing old-timey pinball games and classic Pac Man and Donkey Kong arcade games.

We visited Biltmore Mansion, I saw lots of fancy tapestries and wood carvings and Mr. Biltmore’s mesmerizing library. On our way out of the Biltmore gardens, we saw a black bear about 30 seconds into a Chinese Fire Drill. I didn’t realize it until after we left, but that was by far one of the scariest moments of my life. The bear was so incredible to see that I momentarily forget my intense fear of bears.

The main reason my mother had wanted us to visit Asheville was to see the changing fall foliage. Unfortunately, the leaves were behind schedule and hadn’t started changing yet because the weather has been so crazy lately. We had to drive until at least 5000 feet above sea level to see even the slightest bit of color.

Even though we had an extreme lack of color in the foliage, we went on a driving adventure on the Blue Ridge Parkway to find some waterfalls. My sister sang “Waterfalls” by TLC for the entire car ride but the view more than made up for it.

I never really appreciated the mountains until I came to Juniata. Growing up in Annapolis meant that I spent most of my days 39 feet above sea level, crabbing and boating on the Chesapeake Bay. My only real childhood memory of mountains is from the trip we took to the Grand Canyon when I was nine. The mountains in Asheville were incredible and lush and honestly one of the prettiest views I have ever seen.

View from Biltmore Mansion.
View from Biltmore Mansion.

The views from the Cliffs and the top of 1000 steps in Huntingdon are beautiful, but they are nothing compared to the Smokey Mountains. The mountains of Huntingdon and the mountains of Asheville are vastly different and not at all what I am used to, but they are both immensely fun to explore.

I can’t wait to embrace my newfound love of mountains and spend more time exploring in Huntingdon. In conclusion, Fall Break was amazing, we did go chasing waterfalls and we did not stick to the rivers and lakes that we were used to.

Mean, Green, Eco-Queens

Guest Blogger, Hannah Buckwalter, tells us about her experience living in Ecohouse this year!

The Ecohouse crew!
The Ecohouse crew!

Juniata has a new addition this year!

EcoHouse is back up and running in its new home: 1631 Mifflin Street! There are seven eco-minded people living in the house this year who are all ready to make this a great year of sustainability.

So far, EcoHouse has put on three events for the Juniata and Huntingdon communities. Our first was a housewarming open to all to help us warm the new house. This event was a blast! People found that the house is very easy to find since it is right across from the World Language Center. They also discovered that it has an awesome yard and living room that are great for gathering to learn about environmentally friendly lifestyle choices.

Some of our ladies hanging out with Dean of Students Ellen Campbell and talking about meat substitutes this afternoon.
Some of our ladies hanging out with Dean of Students Ellen Campbell and talking about meat substitutes this afternoon.

The next event we hosted was a Meatless Meat Monday! Members of EcoHouse greeted people walking along the quad and invited them to try some delicious meat substitutes. So many people were amazed by how much better things like seitan sausages and soy/wheat bacon are than the typically gross tofu that most think of as the only meat substitute. The event was a huge hit, and we’re looking forward to this helping promote our push to get more vegan options in Baker that taste delicious!

The third event we’ve done so far was a make-and-take at the house where people could come turn their old T-shirts into reusable shopping bags. While we worked on the bags we talked about what single use products we use and how we can avoid using them.

We made vegan, allergen-free coconut curry with rice and tempeh. Cooking nutritious meals together has quickly become one of our favorite (& yummiest) house activities
We made vegan, allergen-free coconut curry with rice and tempeh. Cooking nutritious meals together has quickly become one of our favorite (& yummiest) house activities.

Now, we are looking forward to the vegan cooking class coming up at the house on Oct. 27th at 3pm with Yasoda from Three Leaf Farmden! Keep an eye out on Facebook (Juniata College EcoHouse), Instagram (@jcecohouse) and Twitter (@jcecohouse) or on the announcements for more events at EcoHouse!

Hope to see you all around sometime!

EcoHouse is an off-campus housing option at Juniata College that focuses on sustainable living and eco-friendly practices. After a couple of years without an Ecohouse, a few determined Juniata students took initiative and started it back up again with the goal of making it better than ever! Residents of the house all take a part in providing the Juniata community with learning opportunities on sustainability, and you don’t need to be a senior to live in this house!