Black Fork Wetlands

ASHLAND – Ashland University’s Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center, 2628 Ashland Road, will host its fourth-annual “Naturalist on Duty” series this year.

The five events will be on Saturdays this summer and early fall.

All five events are free to the public. The events will from 10 a.m. to noon on one Saturday a month from June to October. The events are organized by Patricia Saunders, AU associate professor of biology and director of the environmental science program, and Merrill Tawse, AU professional instructor of biology.

“This ‘Naturalist on Duty’ series provides all with an opportunity to connect with nature in our own backyard and these informal, come-when-you-can style programs are short and flexible,” Saunders said.

“New this year, we will do short programs each hour that focus on basic features of the organisms. These are helpful for identifying groups and common local examples. We will also have an art table for kids of all ages,” Saunders said.

Saunders said those under 16 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The dates and general subject themes for this season’s events are:

-- June 22 -- wetland wildlife

-- July 20 -- dragonflies & damselflies

-- Aug. 10 -- prairie flowers & pollinators

-- Sept. 7 -- birds and bird banding

-- Oct. 5 -- fall insects

Saunders worked together with Amanda Kriner (AU environmental science and biology graduate in the class of 2013) of the Richland County Park District to develop the Naturalist on Duty program, now starting its fourth year.

Trained volunteers from the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program are recruited as guides for some events.

“You also will have an opportunity to see the Environmental Studies Center’s wetlands classroom, 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 for all five events.”