AU Environmental Studies Center to Host Final ‘Naturalist on Duty’ Program

AU Environmental Studies Center to Host Final ‘Naturalist on Duty’ Program

9/30/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s Environmental Studies Center located at the AU Black Fork Wetlands, 2628 Ashland Road, will host its final Saturday “Naturalist on Duty” event this fall on Oct. 8.

The event, which will be held between 12 noon and 3 p.m., is free and open to the public and will feature a program led by AU Professor Merrill Tawse and supported by community volunteers.

These 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. 

Dr. Patricia Saunders, associate professor of biology and director of the environmental science program at AU, said the October event will focus on fall insects.

“Bring old shoes or mud boots if you think you'll want to go off the boardwalk, weather and water level permitting,” she said. “We will be focusing on groups such as the end-of-season butterflies, with a chance of seeing migratory Monarchs, grasshoppers and katydids, and big aquatic insects that are in the wetland this time of year, such as young dragonflies and diving beetles.”

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.                                                                                ###