Friday, October 1st, 5th graders across Paulding County got the opportunity to visit the Black Swamp Nature Center for GREEN Day, or Growing Resources for Education Exploration in Nature Day. The event is hosted by Paulding Soil and Water Conservation District and provides an opportunity for teachers to take learning outside. Kids listened to experts from all over northwest Ohio present about a variety of natural resource topics including water quality, soil health, forestry, wildlife, and livestock management.
Kayla Miller, faculty member of Agricultural Studies, at Northwest State Community College, discussed water quality and demonstrated that ground cover, like cover crops, helps to slow water flow, keeps nutrients in place, and acts as a filter, cleaning out sediment and impurities from water, during large rain fall events. Kids were able to witness how the roots of a cover crop helped to slow water runoff, and minimize erosion, which resulted in keeping the water in this experiment cleaner, with less turbidity.
Did you know that car wax, chewing gum, and even latex rubber gloves, are all produced from trees? Forestry expert, Bruce Clevenger, Extension Educator from Defiance OSU Extension office, discussed the importance and value of trees in our economy and cultures. Trees are considered a renewable resource and can be managed and cultivated, which is important for the success of the industry, as well as to the health and well-being of cultures that work with and are involved in this business.
Bears and Canadian Lynx used to roam this area before it was inhabited by European settlers, cleared, and drained to make way for the farmland that we see today. Education Specialist at Fulton County SWCD, Amanda Podach, showed the kids a variety of pelts and mounts of animals that either used to live, or currently still can be found in our area. She discussed the importance of these animals, the role they play, or played, in our ecosystem, and went on to discuss their characteristics and how it helped them adapt to their environment.
Community Outreach Manager for Cooper Farms, Athena Brown, shared the animal husbandry management techniques that Cooper Farms puts in place for the health and well-being of their livestock. The operation must consider everything from biosecurity to manure management. Kids got a glimpse of how involved this process is and what it takes to run a large livestock operation.
It can take up to 500 years to gain one inch of topsoil. So, to share the importance of soil health and erosion prevention, Defiance SWCD’s Education Specialist, Dru Mark-Wilson, engaged the kids in a game, allowing them to become soil particles and act out erosion, immersing them in their learning experience. Finally, what outdoor experience would be complete without an interpretive nature walk, learning about trees, fungus, and native habitats? Education Coordinator, Tammy Campbell from Van Wert SWCD, guided groups through a walk in the nature preserve pointing out many of these that often go unnoticed.
Getting kids outside in nature is a driving force behind the GREEN Day event. If kids spend time in nature they will grow to appreciate, care for, and respect these resources. Protecting our natural resources is of key importance for the long-term health and well-being of the environmental resources that we owe our existence. Providing kids a fun experience outside, playing, learning and just enjoying nature is the first step toward stewardship and conservation.