Interactive Environmental Programs
"All Native All The Time!"
with April Claus
About April Claus...
Brilliant, creative, funny & ridiculously knowledgeable about western Pennsylvania
ecosystems, April Claus is a master in her field.
April Claus received her B.S. in Environmental Science at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA in 1995. Under the guidance of Dr. Jim Palmer she developed her passion for environmental education and her interest in the natural treasures of Western Pennsylvania, while helping to mold the template for the successful and long-standing Creek Connections school program.
April earned her M.S. in Biology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1998, where she worked with well-known herpetologist, Dr. Arthur Hulse. Dr. Hulse was the driving force behind the Pennsylvania Herpetological Atlas Project, a 7 year study to assess the status of native reptile and amphibian populations across the state. As field director of the project, April helped to educate over 500 volunteers in herpetological identification throughout Pennsylvania.
April has experience in both formal and informal education with many different demographics, having taught at the University of Pittsburgh, and plying the three rivers onboard Pittsburgh Voyager (now called “Riverquest”), a river-based environmental education program.
“Interactive Environmental Programs” was born in 2000 as a way to introduce Pennsylvanians to their native reptile and amphibian species. Using live specimens, models, sights and sounds, these engaging “hands-on” environmental programs are presented to thousands of local citizens from area schools, colleges, parks, nature centers, summer camps and teacher workshops every year.
In 2006, April was honored with the “Outstanding Environmental Educator of the Year Award” from the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators. She has been featured in WQED’s “On-Q Magazine” television program, and in numerous articles and feature stories.
In August 2010, April received the "40 under 40" award from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. This award celebrates the next generation of individuals (under the age of 40) who will continue to shape Pennsylvania’s future landscape with their innovative ideas and actions. There are only 40 recipients of this award statewide.
From the summer of 2005 until the spring of 2020, April served as the park naturalist and later the Director of Parks, Conservation and Education for Sewickley Heights borough just west of Pittsburgh, PA. Here she managed approximately 1300 acres of park land and worked closely with Fern Hollow Nature Center staff to provide quality environmental programming for local schools and community groups. During her tenure with the borough, she was an active board member/volunteer coordinator for the Little Sewickley Creek Watershed Association (LSCWA) and founded the QV Creekers internship program in 2009.
The QV Creekers is an after-school environmental science internship program pairing Quaker Valley high school students with staff from the Creek Connections program at Allegheny College and Fern Hollow Nature Center. During her tenure as the program coordinator, April spearheaded projects such as: wood turtle surveys, wetland habitat restorations, creek trash clean-ups, riparian tree plantings, fish diversity inventories, eDNA sampling and analysis and trout stocking events. As a result of April’s work with the QV Creekers, the LSCWA was awarded the 2020 MWEE Partner of Excellence Award featured by the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators (PAEE).
In addition to her work with the QV Creekers, April led LSCWA volunteers on a number of major projects, including efforts to restore local wetlands (2015) as well as a 26-mile USDA visual stream assessment of the Little Sewickley creek watershed (2018).
In 2020, April accepted a graduate assistantship with the Slippery Rock University’s Macoskey Center for Sustainability where she completed her second master’s degree in Park and Resource Management. More recently, April has been serving as an adjunct faculty member at her alma mater, Allegheny College in Meadville PA, in the Environmental Science and Sustainability Department.
April continues to offer educational programming about Pennsylvania’s natural resources at parks, nature centers and schools all over western Pennsylvania.