Students can get to know forest

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 15, 2000

Second-grader Cody Miller found out trees can have scabs last week.

Monday, May 15, 2000

Second-grader Cody Miller found out trees can have scabs last week. "It was all fun except for the poison ivy," he said, finishing a nature hike around Lake Vesuvius. Cody and his Fairland East Elementary classmates learned about trees, wildlife and the lake environment during the walk, courtesy of the Ohio University Southern Campus Nature Center.

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The nature center, which opened in early April, is administered by the college in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service’s Wayne National Forest.

It offers instruction for OUSC students, pre-service and in-service teachers, area kindergarten through 12th-grade students, community organizations and the public in an outdoor setting.

"Our mission here is to teach people about the environment and its importance and how the environment impacts us," program director Bob Culp said.

The center has given many students their first experience in the outdoors through hikes, science activities and environmental games, Culp said.

The staff at the center, which includes teaching assistants and a naturalist, can help teachers take lessons back to the classroom, he said.

Plus, programs ranging from birdwatching walks to a nighttime "owl prowl" offer the public a chance to not only see the Vesuvius area but also learn from it.

"There’s so much out there," Culp said. "And we want to establish programs for senior citizens."

Nature Center activities coordinator Jo Huff said students from all over the county already have enjoyed the hikes and games.

Last week, Fairland students learned how insects use camouflage in the forest, for instance, she said.

"It’s a wonderful way to teach science, and that’s very needed today," Mrs. Huff said.

A grant from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund made the center possible, Culp said. The Wayne provided use of its building near the Vesuvius Dam area.

It is staffed from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. A library houses a collection of publications on Southern Ohio plants and flowers.

The center’s naturalist, Adam Wilson, comes to the center from Alaska where he spent three months living in the wilderness as a back country ranger at Nancy Lake State Recreational Area north of Anchorage.

Wilson is a self-taught camping and backpack enthusiast who will be at the center through the summer to lead nature hikes and walks.

The days and times for hikes vary, but are posted on the center bulletin board. All hikes are open to the public.

The center also offers visitors historical and nature videos. The historical video presents the era of the iron furnaces.

Beginning June 1, visitors will also be able to check out day packs filled with field guides for the local region.

For more information about the center, contact Mrs. Huff at 533-4563.

Upcoming public programs at the Nature Center this summer include:

– June 22, Birding Field Trip, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Educators, birders, scout leaders and youth leaders may join Jim McCormac from Ohio Department of Natural Resources for a day of bird watching and study at the Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area and the Crown City Wildlife Area Binoculars are available or bring your own. Bring a sack lunch. Registration required. Fee, $1.

– June 29, Stream Monitoring Workshop, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Educators, scout leaders, student teachers and youth leaders may join Becky Ewing, fisheries biologist at the Wayne for a day of stream monitoring activities and how to involve your classroom in a "Save Our Streams" (SOS) program. For information call 1-740-867-6432 or contact Ms. Ewing at 1-740-534-6500. Fee, $35.