The revitalized Leadership Carbon Class heard about environmental and conservation issues in the county during a program held yesterday at the Carbon County Environmental Education Center.

Leadership Carbon took a one-year hiatus last year to restructure itself after five successful years. The leadership program is operated by the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce.

The 12-member Class of 2012 heard from about a half-dozen speakers about the work of the environmental center, the Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor, tourism built on the county's natural resources and the county's lakes and parks.

Susan Gallagher, chief naturalist at the environmental center, gave a slide presentation on the center's interaction with wild animals and how efforts are made to rehabilitate wildlife whenever possible. She said some animals, which can't be rehabilitated, are utilized for education purposes.

Education is a key role in the center, she said.

She showed a photo of a baby animal – a raccoon – that was brought to the home of one of the employees of the center in the off-hours.

Gallagher said the animal was brought in a baby carriage, with a young child also in the carriage.

This meant the animal had to be tested for rabies.

She stressed that people should not interact with wild animals.

It was explained that over 90 percent of the injuries to wild animals brought to the center are caused by humans.

Examples are birds flying into windows and lawn mowers injuring rabbits in their nests.

The education role of the center involves activities for children and their parents.

The key, she said, is to get children outdoors and away from computer games.

While the Leadership Carbon class was having classroom instruction, a class of students from the L. B. Morris Elementary School in Jim Thorpe was outdoors playing games and hearing from speakers.

The Leadership Carbon students took a tour of the facilities and saw first-hand the various birds (hawks, eagles, owls, vultures) as well as other animals that are cared for at the facility.

H. Scott Everett, stewardship and trail manager of the Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor, gave a presentation on improvements made to the trails along the Lehigh Canal, including creating a prestige hiking and biking path in Lehigh Gorge, extensive work in the Lehigh Gap area, and plans to add a foot bridge and other improvements in Jim Thorpe.

Everett noted the Lehigh Gap area will be dedicated at a special program on Friday, Oct. 14.

Dale Freudenberger, also of the Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor, gave some historical background of the area.

After the program at the environmental center, the Leadership Carbon class went to the community room of the Kovatch Corporation to begin planning a community project.