PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Mark Knepp Is Penn State’s Resident Duck And Duckling Rescuer Of 23 Years

For the past 23 years, Mark Knepp has been rescuing ducks and ducklings around Penn State’s campus. As an Office of Physical Plant (OPP) Area Facilities Maintenance Worker he typically covers general maintenance and classrooms, but whenever there’s a duck in need, he jumps into action to rescue them. Knepp lives by a “no duck left behind” code.

Late Monday evening around 8 p.m., someone called in the what had been the sound of ducklings in a storm drain at the corner of Shortlidge Road and College Avenue. University Park Police blocked off one of the sides of the road as Knepp and his partner Tracy Hurtack, who describes Knepp as their “duck whisperer,” began the rescue attempt. The mother duck and remaining ducklings were frantically running around them.

Mark Knepp (Left) & Tracie Hurtack (Center)

Rescuing ducks on campus has become routine for Knepp, so he knew exactly what he had to do. Over the last 23 years that he’s been with OPP, he estimates that he’s been on about 50 duck rescue calls and saved more than 100 ducks and ducklings. “I don’t mind rescuing the animals,” Knepp said. “I don’t like to see anything suffer.”

Knepp and his partner began by removing the metal grating over the drain. He then climbed down into the cavity with a flashlight while a bucket and cloth were lowered by rope into the storm drain. Using a duck sound from his iPhone, Knepp managed to corral two of the four ducklings and put them into the bucket and covered them with the cloth.

“Not up until the last couple of years I’ve had a phone with a duck sound on it, but it does work,” Knepp said. “It brings them back most of the time if they’re not far away, but it does work as silly as it sounds.”

Knepp using his iPhone duck sound to corral the ducklings

He unrelentingly attempted to rescue the two remaining ducks, but they were too far down the drain to reach.

After several attempts and many iPhone quacks later, Knepp emerged from the drain with only two of the ducklings, but the mother and other ducklings were nowhere to be found. It was getting late and Knepp had to track her down and return the two saved ducklings, so he and Hurtack closed up the storm drain.

Knepp with ducklings in tow

Walking west from Atherton Hall across campus, Knepp checked the usual places where he’d expect the mother to settle for the evening. He had a feeling that she would return to the duck pond by the Hintz Family Alumni Center. As we approached the duck pond, one could hear duck quacks in the distance and the ducklings in the bucket frantically called out to their mother.

Knepp releasing the ducklings to their mother

Knepp’s instincts were right. He had found the mother duck at the pond. Knepp knelt down beside the pond and reunited the two ducklings with her. He assures people that he will return tomorrow to see if he can save the remaining ducklings but asks anyone walking near storm drains in the area of Shortlidge Road and College Avenue to keep their ears peeled for duckling quacks.

If people do hear quacks from storm drains, they are asked to call the University Park Police at (814) 863-1111. Knepp will surely respond.

About the Author

Patrick Cines

Patrick is a Marketing major from Princeton, NJ. He has sadly graduated and left Happy Valley, but if you're reading this know that he enjoyed writing about politics during his time with Onward State. If you have any questions about what he's written or you see a photo that you want to use feel free to email [email protected] if you don't want to get a response. If you're looking to get a response, then shoot him a message and a follow on Twitter at @patrickcines.



Cole Miller Misses Cut At U.S. Open

Miller finished the first two rounds of the U.S. Open at +12, missing the cut by four strokes.

Evan Barratt Invited To World Junior Summer Showcase

Several Penn State Women’s Soccer Players Training In WPSL

Top-100 Wrestler Flips From Pitt To Penn State

Maddie Elliston Named Penn State Women’s Soccer Captain

Student Life

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting At Beaver Stadium

If alumna Alex Perry hadn’t accidentally gotten into the wrong admissions line before a football game, she might never have met the love of her life.

Virtual Reality: Changing The Game At Penn State

Penn State Cracks The Top Ten In Niche’s 2018 Party School Ranking

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Freshman 101: How To Buy Football Tickets

Tickets go on sale for graduate students on Monday, June 18, followed by seniors on Tuesday, juniors on Wednesday, sophomores on Thursday, and freshmen on Friday.

Four Veterans Who Could Fill Important Roles For Penn State

Mark Allen, Brandon Polk, Jarvis Miller, and Ayron Monroe have the chance to create more opportunities for themselves this season.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Penn State, Big Ten Among Nation’s Most Expensive Student Football Tickets

Penn State knows its football tickets are an inelastic good and has its hands at the end of a string.

Send this to a friend