Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Hiking Series

Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Hiking Series
April 29, 2019

 A new monthly educational hiking series for teens and adults begins at 6 p.m. May 21 and is to continue every third Tuesday evening.

The hikes are sponsored by Seneca County's Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program.

Birds are the topic of the first hike May 21, and it is to be led by Jim Coffman, local master bird bander and Seneca County's representative of the Ohio Blue Bird Society. Coffman will lead a hike beginning at Tiffin's Schekelhoff Nature Preserve and continue through Seneca County Park District's Clinton Nature Preserve and back. He has bluebird boxes at the preserve and plans to provide bluebird information. He also may be able to give an up-close view of other birds.

Parking for Schekelhoff preserve is near Tiffin's Water Pollution Control Center on Water Street.

The second hike in the series is planned for 6 p.m. June 18, featuring Kildow State Wildlife Area, which is across the Sandusky River from Howard Collier State Nature Preserve. Over the last few years, a partnership of conservation organizations has been working to remove invasive species from the area and establish pollinator plots and other wildlife-friendly habitat. The hike is to be led by Christina Kuchle, Northwest Ohio Scenic Rivers program manager with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Parking will be at the Howard Collier State Nature Preserve lot, 1655 W. TR 38.

And the third hike in the series is to be at 6 p.m. July 16 when Sister Shirley Shafranek leads a scenic and informational hike about the trail and woodlands on the St. Francis grounds.

"The goals of the hiking series are to match nature-based educational topics with local experts and to encourage people to visit nature areas in Seneca County that might be new to them," said coordinator Vicki Johnson, who recently completed the education portion of OCVN training with 12 classmates.

The OCVNs-in-training are working on completing 40 hours of volunteer service before they can become full-fledged, certified volunteer naturalists.

The program, sponsored by the Franciscan Earth Literacy Center and Seneca County Park District, is planning its next classroom training for late winter/early spring 2021.

"We were so excited to have such a wonderful first class with great enthusiasm for the outdoors," said Seneca County Park District Executive Director Sarah Betts. "This hiking series is a perfect example of what the OCVN program is all about – to promote awareness of Ohio's natural resources."

To be placed on a list of people interested in the OCVN program or to let the OCVN program know about volunteer opportunities with a nature-based organization, contact Betts at 419-447-8091 or sbetts@senecacountyparks.com, or Shafranek atsshafranek@felctiffin.org or 419-448-7485.

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