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Musings of an Eastern Box Turtle

Armstrong Conservation District outreach 2020

By Myrtle

Hello, my name is Myrtle and I am the new face of the Armstrong Conservation District (ACD). I am fondly referred to as “Myrtle the Conservation Turtle,” and I joined ACD staff in October 2019. I reside in ACD’s office with Watershed Specialist/Educator, Maria Sorce.

Visit me at local events

I have some very ambitious goals for 2020.

I am very excited to meet Armstrong County’s residents and share facts about my fellow turtles. I will be with Maria, Kodie Rearick, and Laura Sue Stewart and ACD’s Mobile Environmental Display doing outreach events throughout the year. I am looking forward to going on the road to educate the public about native species and ACD’s mission at school visits and especially the Great Dayton Fair. Look for me at an upcoming event near you!

Life for a box turtle

In the wild, eastern box turtles inhabit woodlands and marshy areas. They live among leaf litter and near streams. Box turtles are naturally omnivorous and feed on insects, fruit and small amphibians. I on the other hand, enjoy several different kinds of fruit and vegetables such as blueberries, tomatoes, lettuce, and carrots, although bananas are my favorite food. To supplement protein in my diet, Maria feeds me mealworms. A basking light provides me with warmth and aids in my food digestion.

Wild box turtles have a specific ‘home range’ that is generally an area with a diameter of 750 feet or less. I reside in an aquarium filled with wood chips and a nice water dish for bathing, and sometimes I receive “enrichment time” in which I get to explore the ACD office and visit my co-workers.

ACD Programs & Staff

Here at ACD our mission is to promote the stewardship of our natural resources in cooperation with public and private partners. This goal helps to protect native species such as the Eastern Box Turtle.

Each of ACD’s four technical programs protects the environment in a unique way. My office-mate Maria Sorce works with cooperating agencies such as Trout Unlimited and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to implement stream enhancement projects. These projects include abandoned mine discharge treatment facilities and streambank stabilization projects that protect and improve the water quality within Armstrong County.

My friend Jessica Schaub administers the agricultural program and provides technical assistance to our local farmers. Jessica works to install best management practices on farms to prevent nutrient loading and sedimentation of water courses.

Holly Laird is another friend of mine who works to prevent accelerated erosion and sedimentation by working with the regulated community. She assists them to submit permit applications and provides technical assistance to protect our waterways.

Gregg Smith is another buddy of mine and is responsible for administering the Dirt, Gravel and Low Volume Roads program. This program assists municipalities with environmentally sensitive road maintenance projects that reduce sediment pollution and take into consideration aquatic organism passage.

My pal Kodie Rearick is an AmeriCorps Member and also assists with these programs and supervises the ACD W.A.T.E.R. GeoTrail that has 24 caches and helps get people out and about exploring the county, check it out at

Don’t miss upcoming ACD event

  • Check out the fruit tree and tree seedling sale that Jessica is putting on. All orders are due by March 13th.

  • You can find Maria on April 16th at 6 PM at the West Franklin-Worthington Library for a Buffalo Creek Watershed Coalition Meeting.

  • Also, everyone will be helping out at the Armstrong County Envirothon on April 29th.

To learn more about me and ACD visit our website follow us on Facebook and Instagram!


Myrtle the Conservation Turtle is an eastern box turtle of about 50 years of age. For many years, she lived a quiet, relaxed life with her previous owner. When her owner entered an assisted living facility, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) helped Myrtle find her new home with ACD. Although Eastern Box Turtles are native to Pennsylvania, after living in captivity for the majority of her life, Myrtle cannot be released into the wild.

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