Ashland University Environmental Studies Center to Extend ‘Naturalist on Duty’ Series

Ashland University Environmental Studies Center to Extend ‘Naturalist on Duty’ Series

8/29/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s Environmental Studies Center located at the AU Black Fork Wetlands, 2628 Ashland Road, will extend its Saturday “Naturalist on Duty” series to include two more events this year – one on Sept. 10 and one on Oct. 8.

The new events, which will be held between 12 noon and 3 p.m. on those Saturdays, are free and open to the public and will feature programs led by AU Professor Merrill Tawse and supported by community volunteers.

The informal, come-when-you-can programs provide an opportunity for those of all ages to learn about “Seasonality and Change in Wetland Habitats.” Those under 16 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 

“In September, weather permitting, Professor Merrill Tawse will demonstrate the how’s and why’s of bird banding,” said Dr. Patricia Saunders, associate professor of biology and director of the environmental science program. “Professor Tawse is a master bander, a status that follows a rigorous training and certification process via the North American Bird Banding Program at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.”

Saunders said the October event will focus on observation and natural histories for insect groups that thrive in the fall, such as grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies and damselflies.

Saunders worked together with Amanda Kriner (AU environmental science and biology graduate class of 2013) of the Richland County Park District to develop the series. They recruited trained volunteers – Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists -- to answer questions and talk about seasonal changes in the wetland and surrounding habitats, including local plants in bloom and changes in animal activity.

“You also will have an opportunity to see the Environmental Studies Center’s new wetlands classroom, complete with bathrooms, and learn a little more about this eco-friendly building,” Saunders said. “The boardwalk, observation tower, and most of all, the beauty and diversity of the Black Fork Wetlands will guarantee that you see something different every single time you come out. So bring the whole family, and join us.”

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.                                                                                ###

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