Ashland University Environmental Studies Center to Host 2nd Annual ‘Naturalist on Duty’ Program

Ashland University Environmental Studies Center to Host 2nd Annual ‘Naturalist on Duty’ Program

6/15/17 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s Environmental Studies Center located at the AU Black Fork Wetlands Preserve, 2638 Ashland Road, will again this summer host a “Naturalist on Duty” program. All five Saturday events are free and open to the public.

The informal, come-when-you-can programs provide an opportunity for explorers of all ages to learn about “Seasonality and Change in Wetland Habitats.” Each event will be held between 10 a.m. and noon and program dates are June 24, July 15, Aug. 12, Sept. 16 and Oct. 14. Those under 16 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Dr. Patricia Saunders, associate professor of biology and director of the environmental science program, worked together with Amanda Kriner (AU environmental science and biology graduate class of 2013) of the Richland County Park District to develop the program, which was started last summer. They recruited trained Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists to answer questions and lead small groups.

According to Saunders, the focus of each month’s event will be different. The June program will focus on frog calls and observing early summer wildflowers and their pollinators. Interested participants can also learn about a local citizen science project. Programs later in the season will focus on damselflies and dragonflies, watersheds, birds and bird banding, microscopic life, and wetland and prairie habitats.

The Environmental Studies Center includes the marsh habitat surrounding the boardwalk, streams that flow into the Black Fork of the Mohican River, and prairie habitat along the path to the boardwalk.

“This natural variety is good for many kinds of plants and animals,” Saunders said. “We are also pleased to share the Environmental Studies Center’s eco-friendly wetlands classroom, complete with bathrooms. The boardwalk, observation tower, and most of all, the beauty and diversity of the Black Fork Wetlands guarantee something different every day. We encourage repeat visits.”

Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2017, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( deeply 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.                                                                                ###