Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Look Back At 2008

As we close out 2008 and welcome the New Year, we offer up some fascinating retrospectives from some of our favorite websites for natural discovery and fun.
From the Discovery Channel, you can view the Top Ten Discovery News Videos of 2008 including stories about stunning new species and momentous moon moments.
The moon is also highlighted in NASA's Top Science, Exploration and Discovery Stories of 2008.
NASA's 2008 achievements caught the attention of The Science Channel, which promises to skip tabloid celebrity fodder and political news as they count down the Top Ten Science Stories of 2008.
You can review the year at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, by browsing back through the entries in this blog or skimming through the announcements in our online newsroom or special events acknowledgements. It was an exciting year for all of us as we welcomed tiny tots, Ohio's Governor and all kinds of folks in between, always working to honor our mission to educate and inspire understanding, appreciation and responsibility for the natural world.
Thanks for joining us in 2008! We look forward to seeing you in 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Hours

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center will be closing our doors early this Christmas Eve at 3 p.m. to spend time with friends and family. We hope you're doing the same! We'll be closed on Christmas Day as well. We'll also observe an early 3 p.m. closing on New Year's Eve with New Year's Day off. The rest of the Winter Break period, we'll be open for our usual hours (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) and we even have some extra fun planned in the Walter R. Schuele Planetarium where you and your family can enjoy the twinkling stars and special holiday laser lights and music. May your holidays be filled with joy & natural wonder!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Wish List

Even if you're belt tightening this holiday season, you can afford something from our "wish list." We have items both small and large on our list and they all help us carry out our mission to "educate and inspire each of us to understand, appreciate and take responsiblity for the natural universe." So pick up some baby food or pine shavings for the wildlife in our care or puzzles and blocks for the children in our classrooms and drop them off at the front desk. You can access the complete in-kind donation "wish list" here. Thanks for including us in your giving. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Night Tree Comes To Life

Looking to give your kids a different twist on the holidays? Want to capture the "giving" spirit of the season and celebrate the natural world? You won’t want to miss The Night Tree, the heartwarming story of one family’s tradition of sharing the true spirit of the holidays with nature.
Hear the telling of The Night Tree in Lake Erie Nature & Science Center's Schuele Planetarium and have a close encounter with some of the animals featured in the story! Prepare yummy treats for the wildlife to eat and enjoy your own afternoon snack of holiday cookies and warm beverages.
This special family program on Tuesday, December 16 from 3 - 4:30 p.m. requires pre-registration with a fee of $10 per child. Ages 3 and up with an adult are welcome!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nature Center Holiday Gifts

In addition to the popular Adopt-An-Animal program, which makes a great "green" holiday present for the animal lover in your home, we have a couple of other gift options this year. Our 2009 Lake Erie Nature & Science Center wildlife calendars are hot off the presses. We have a limited number of copies for sale at the front desk for just $5! Our cute critter ornaments are also selling for $5 this year. Stop in a make your gift-giving dollars make a difference!

Friday, December 5, 2008

We need you!

There's been a barrage of unsettling headlines recently about the struggling economy and its impact on all of us-- jobs, nest eggs and yes, philanthropy! Like other worthy non-profit organizations, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center relies on the generosity of people like you – not tax dollars – to provide the crucial funding for our mission.
In spite of the turbulent times, if you are able, we hope you will take time in this busy season to make a year-end gift to the children, families and animals that rely on us. We are only able to provide free admission seven days a week, wildlife rehab at no charge and so many other valued programs and services with the strong financial backing of donors like you.
You can make a 2008 year-end gift to us in one of three ways: call 440-871-2900, mail your donation to 28728 Wolf Road, Bay Village, OH 44140 or follow this link right now to donate online.
To those of you who have already made a contribution, thanks for your support!
To each of you, forget about the economy for a bit and come visit the animals, catch a star show or just sit by our fireplace and relax. Hope to see you soon!

Friday, November 21, 2008

What's In A Name? Education!

We recently made a small change to the name of Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s rehab program. It is now officially called the “Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program.” This is to emphasize to everyone that wildlife rehabilitation is much more than just trying to heal injured animals. A greater good can also be accomplished by investing time and effort into educating people about wildlife, natural history and nature in general.

One example of that education occurs when a caring, concerned individual finds a healthy baby animal and brings it to us to provide care and feeding. We almost always instruct these people to return the baby back where it was found so the mother can continue caring for it. Convincing people to do this is a win-win situation. It’s best for the animal to be raised by its own mother and it’s also best for the person to better understand and respect nature.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

After School Adventures Beach Sweep

“I was surprised by all the trash we found!” “Why would someone just leave it(aluminum can)?” “This(cigarette butt) is gross!” “People swim here!” “Why is this(battery) here?” "Where does all of this(beach litter) come from?" Those were just some of the heart-felt questions and comments made by my students during a non-typical "day-at-the-beach." Non-typical in that we were there not to play or relax but to investigate and “take action.” On October 7th, nine of my students from Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s After School Adventures Club (Grades 3 & 4) enthusiastically spent part of their class cleaning-up(as part of their Beach Sweep Inquiry Action Project) a section of our beautiful, neighboring Huntington Beach.
During our classes prior to the Beach Sweep, we discussed the importance of keeping Lake Erie and its beaches litter-free, how litter negatively effects not only the environment and wildlife but also humans, communities, and the economy, and what we both as a class and as individuals can do to reduce beach litter and stop our trash from becoming litter in the first place. We referred to Miami University’s Project Dragonfly’s Dragonfly Quest program for guidance during our investigation.
Question and observe
Uncover comparative questions
Explore predictions
Start action plan and gather data
Think hard about finding and share discoveries
After we swept the beach, we then counted, tallied, and recorded the items with the aid of The Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach Litter Monitoring Form. In only 30 minutes, and along only 235 yards of Huntington Beach, we collected over 600 pieces of trash that weighed-in at almost 4 pounds!
Some of the items we picked up:
270 Cigarettes
118 Plastic Cigarette Filters
60 Plastic Caps
20 Straws
20 Food Wrappers
9 Firework Debris
8 Balloons on Strings
4 Aluminum Cans
3 Plastic Spoons
2 Batteries
1 Pill Bottle

These and the other items we collected from Huntington Beach are now part of our class’s Beach Sweep Project Display, which is located in Lake Erie Nature & Science Center's Teacher Resource Center for the remainder of the year.
During your next visit to the Center, please stop by our Display to see and learn more about what we did and discovered, in addition to, what we would like for YOU to do to help us keep our Great Lake GREAT!

For additional information on:
our After School Adventures Club program, please visit
future Adopt-a-Beach events at Huntington Beach, visit:
or contact Carla Roth at or (440) 871-2900 Ext. 221.
The Alliance For The Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program

Flying Squirrel Now On Exhibit

One of our newest exhibit animals at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is our Southern Flying Squirrel. This creature came into our Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Program on July 21 with symptoms of head trauma. Although symptoms improved through the rehab process, permanent neurological damage means this squirrel would not be able to survive in the wild. Fortunately, he adapted well to captivity and can now serve an educational role at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

Most people are not aware that the Southern Flying Squirrel is the most common squirrel in Ohio and lives here year round. They often go undetected due to their small size and nocturnal habits. Their large eyes serve as a clue to their nocturnal nature. Flying Squirrels live in old woodpecker cavities, other tree crevices and even birdhouses. They have also adapted to urban environments, living in crevices of homes and garages.

Flying Squirrels cannot truly fly. They earn their name through their ability to glide long distances of up to 50 feet. (If traveling downhill, with the wind behind them, they can go up to 300 feet!) Flying squirrels have two adaptations that make them great gliders. First they have a flap of furred skin between each of their front and back legs called a patagium that acts as a parachute. Second, they have a long flat tail that helps with balance in the air.

Although he usually will be sleeping, you can see our flying squirrel in a tree cavity in the exhibit hall at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Larry Richardson's blog is for the birds

I am the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center birder disguised as the Center's Executive Director. This allows my blog to be somewhat mysterious and cloaked in secrecy, so to speak. So if you tell someone about Larry's "birding" blog you are perpetuating the mystery and the confusion.

What is not a mystery is that birding is a whole lot of fun and the Lake Erie south shore is a fantastic place to see an exceptional number of North America's many bird species. It is also no secret that I am driven to see every one of those species and that pretty much describes in a great deal of detail a summary of my personal life or lack there of.

Sunday November 9, 2008 was just another in a series of weekend birding trips around northern Ohio when Jan Auburn and I stumbled upon 7 Cave Swallows at Bradstreet Landing in Rocky River, not far from The Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

Out of the corner of my eye (there are actually no corners in the human eye) I saw a couple of small songbird size birds over the beach that struck me as starlings, thinking at the same time that those birds aren't starlings. This is a common instinctive contradictory reaction to birds seen out of the corner of one's eye. And in a flash the reality that the birds were swallows came crashing into my consciousness.

So what's the big deal. Swallows are common birds. Not on November 9th in Northern Ohio. September 19th, maybe, but not not 3 weeks later. In fact, only one species of swallows is occurring here so late, and that , my friends, is what is so exciting.

Cave Swallows are a common nesting species in South Texas and along the Mexican border and into northern Mexico. They are a subtropical species that shouldn't like our northern transition from fall to winter. These warm weather swallows started showing up in the northeastern U.S. about 5 or 6 years ago and in Ohio about 3 years ago.

No one seems to know why they show up here so late. It isn't a lot of birds, just a few. Most of them seem quite content to stay where it is warm. It is odd that some migrate so far north when they should be thinking south.

The 2 birds that I hoped to see vanished. Not a good feeling.

Jan, with her infinite patience said lets just wait, walk the beach and they may re-appear. And Re-appear they did.....this time 7 instead of 2. The Swallows did what most rare birds don't do. They were cooperative.

The Cave Swallows verified their identification by flying and perching openly and closely. They were sheltering themselves from nasty west winds and provided many, many photo opportunities. We got the word of the event on the internet which allowed a multitude of birding whose who to get their best ever if not their first look at a true Ohio rarity.

Birding is always fun, interesting and often educational, but for those of us that live for birding it is this kind of experience that really make the endeavor worthwhile. I appreciate the fact that it was a great experience for a lot of birders but my thanks goes out to 7 beautiful Cave Swallows so very far from home.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Last Call for Ecuador!

In the midst of Cleveland's upcoming winter, can you picture yourself hiking a cloud forest in the Andean Highlands or boating an Amazon River tributary? You can do more than just imagine it! Make plans to join Lake Erie Nature & Science Center's next international adventure to Ecuador, where 1,550 species of birds have been recorded and the natural beauty is unparalleled! The December 15th registration deadline is coming up fast for this trip that takes off January 24 – February 5, 2009. Space is limited.
For the complete trip lowdown, just download a trip description, full 13-day trip itinerary and registration form.
You can also contact Center Executive Director Larry Richardson, your host from take off to touch down back home, for more information about this exciting South American adventure. Call 440-871-2900 ext 201.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nature Center Kickin' It With Kenny

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center got a nod from Fox 8's Kenny Crumpton this morning. In his Kickin' It with Kenny segment, the popular morning show reporter presented some great ideas for fun on a budget. In the hunt for different fun things a family of four can do for under $10 around Cleveland, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center was a highlight of Kenny's report.

Mars Lander Declared Dead

Schuele Planetarium Director and NASA Speaker's Bureau Representative Jay Reynolds reports that it's official! After 5 1/2 months of operation, Mars Phoenix Lander has stopped communicating with controllers on Earth.
Landing May 25th, on the edge of the Mars Northern Polar Ice Cap (the equivalent of Northern Alaska), this lander not only sent photos, but had a weather station and geology labs. Final results will be long coming, but safe to say, this area of Mars once was wetter, currently has water ice and the local soil has favorable chemistry for life to grab a foot hold. Here's the AP report.

Jay always shares the latest, cutting edge space science news and photos at all of our planetarium programs, so check out the schedule of public star shows and stop by.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Green Your Holidays

Get the whole family involved in making some recycled gifts and learn how to "green up" the season during our Make It A Green Holiday family workshop coming up this Saturday, November 15 at noon. You do have to sign up in advance for this event, but the cost is a mere $5 per family. You'll also need to supply your own 2 liter bottle and old Cd's to use in your take home projects.
For a whole list of Green Holiday ideas and more Center news, read the latest issue of Nature Notes, our bi-monthly newsletter for class and program participants.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mallard Back In Nature

We have another widlife rehab release to report, this time into water. A Mallard was brought to us near death after she was retrieved from the pounding waves at Edgewater Beach on October 16. She was unable to swim or even stand.

Her treatment consisted of being kept in an incubator and re-hydrated with fluids. She was then tube-fed a food formula which is easily digested. Once her strength returned, she was removed from the incubator and placed in our waterbird cage and fed regular duck food. She was released on Oct. 30th in Porter Creek in Bay Village to join a group of Mallards already there.

-Dave Wolf, Director of Wildlife Programs

Carousel Holiday Festival Wrap

Shopping, food and music combined to create a festive and fun day at Saturday's 40th Christmas Carousel Holiday Festival at Bay High School. The annual fundraiser is sponsored by the all-volunteer Women's Board at the non-profit Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. That's Susie Min and Serena Chang playing a piano duet for the appreciative crowd of shoppers, while Katie Grzelak and son Logan give a Snuggie Buddie blanket a "test hug."
The Women's Board, led by Deb Barnum and Kathleen Croissant, did a stellar job organizing and putting on another terrific Carousel, which was also supported by a variety of wonderful vendors and shoppers. Thanks to everyone involved! See you at the 41st annual in 2009!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rehabbed Great Horned Owl Released

Another of our autumn rehab patients was returned safely to the wild this month. In early September, this adult Great Horned Owl came to our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program from Amherst with signs of neurological damage from possible head trauma.
Following a 1 week course of steroids (anti-inflammatory medication) the owl's symptoms began to improve. We transferred it to a larger cage for a few more weeks which allowed us to ensure his awareness and flight skills were back to normal. We were able to release him on October 19, placing this "tiger of the woods" back into Nature where he belongs.

-Amy LeMonds
Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New and Improved Carousel Holiday Festival Coming Saturday

Live local music, an expanded café with lunch and easier access will greet shoppers at this year’s new and improved Christmas Carousel Holiday Festival, Saturday (November 1) at Bay High School. The event benefits Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, allowing shoppers to give twice with their holiday dollars!
Carousel shoppers will find new vendors this year along with old favorites including jewelers, wood craftsmen, photo art, hand-painted gifts and furniture, unique children's clothing, original art work, stained glass, blankets, hand-embellished denim clothing, beaded giftware, personalized children's books, ceramics, notecards and more.

New this year: Live music by a variety of local groups and ensembles as well as the Carousel Café, which will feature lunch, home-baked goods and more. The sponsoring Lake Erie Nature & Science Center Women’s Board, an all volunteer group that supports our non-profit work, will collect a $3 per person entry donationm, which includes one FREE raffle ticket for great prizes! Carousel hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Carousel will be held at Bay High School, located at 29230 Wolf Road. There will be a special drop-off entrance this year that bypasses the long walk through the High School hallways.
Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shredding Day Thank You!

The first-ever Shredding Day sponsored by Lake Erie Nature & Science Center on Saturday enabled more than 150 area families to safely dispose of old confidential documents without worrying about identity theft or landfill waste.
The Shredding Network of Wickliffe donated the use of their state-of-the-art mobile shredding truck for the morning, so 100% of the donations for the service went to our non-profit organization.
The best part is that all those bags and boxes of paper (4.6 tons worth!) are now shredded, bailed and on their way to a paper mill to make new paper products! Shredding Network estimates that by recycling 4.6 tons of paper, we saved 78.2 trees and 13.8 cubic yards of landfill!

A win-win morning for everyone involved! Thanks to Dana Mueller and the Shredding Network who hope to make this an annual event in Bay Village. Keep recycling!

Halloween Hayride Night 2008

More than 300 little goblins and their families enjoyed an our annual Halloween Hayride Night on Friday. Delicious dinner, a monster craft, live animals and stars shows with a Halloween twist were all included. The trick or treat trail for our costumed guests was moved inside because of rain but the sky cleared up just in time to make way for wagon rides around Huntington Reservation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Swan Swims Again

A juvenile Mute Swan is gracing a LaGrange pond again following a successful, month-long rehab here at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. The swan is probably the largest bird we've ever treated at almost 5 feet long! The swan arrived here with foot injuries including torn webbing, a compound fractured toe, and abrasions and cuts on the feet. We cleaned the wounds, administered a two-week course of antibiotics and did daily wet-to-dry foot wraps to aid in healing. This majestic animal was released over the weekend back in LaGrange.
-Amy LeMonds

Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist

Want to know more about our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program? Head on over to the wildlife rehab pages of our website.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Along Came a Spider...

Just in time for Halloween, your 4 - 6 year-old can have some creepy-crawly Log Cabin fun discovering the world of spiders. Look right into the eyes -- all eight of them -- of a real live, hairy tarantula during a special, one-hour Log Cabin Discoveries program on October 28 at 10 a.m. There'll be time for hands-on creativity --spider-style --- too! Fee is $15 per child with a $5 discount for Center members.

Also in the Log Cabin, After School Adventures is wrapping up the Fall session classes for 1st & 2nd graders or 3rd & 4th graders, but plenty of exciting natural discovery awaits when the Winter Session takes over in January. The Log Cabin and Huntington Reservation offer the perfect natural escape on a Winter afternoon, so reserve your child's spot today!

Check out all of our upcoming Winter Programming for children on our website or by viewing the pdf version of our Winter Program Guide. You can also call (440) 871-2900 ext. 221 for more information or to register by phone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sixteen Autumn (or Anytime) Hikes

Is there any better time of year to take a hike than Autumn? With all the turmoil in the world right now, why not take a break and immerse yourself in the colors, patterns, smells and textures of nature's changing seasons and restore a little perspective to your life.

Even on a rainy day like today, you can enjoy a walk in the woods as a solitary activity or a group adventure. Consider these soggy hike suggestions:

Drippy Walk:Take a walk during a rain and explore different smells, colors, and tastes. Look for animals that like the rain and places where soil is eroding. Catch a"drop" of rainwater in your hands and taste it. Walk along with your tongue stuck out to get a taste.

The Drippy Walk is Hike #4 on the list of Sixteen Great Nature Hikes for Families on the Games & Activities Page of Lake Erie Nature & Science Center's online Kids Corner.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Winter Session Registration Reminder

A reminder to all of our members that your early registration for Winter Session classes and programs begins tomorrow, October 11 at 10 a.m. Get in early -- long before the first snowflakes fly -- and guarantee your spot in a great class or program sure to beat winter cabin fever later! The exclusive, early registration period is one of the benefits afforded to all members at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. You can start enjoying those benefits and help to support our non-profit work by signing up to become a member online today!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

See the Space Station Tonight!

Schuele Planetarium Director Jay Reynolds says tonight (October 9, 2008) offers your last chance until Thanksgiving to see the space station moving through the night sky! Jay says you can expect to see a bright light moving in a straight line. It will not flash, make sounds or change course. The station is carrying 3 astronauts at 17,500 miles per hour (5 miles per second!)

Here are Jay's viewing instructions:

At 7:16 p.m. look West North West (to the right where the sun sets) Don't confuse the bright star in the West, that is Acturus.
At 7:21 p.m. the space station will be 2/3 high in the sky
At 7:24 p.m. the space station will be heading towards the South East

Happy viewing!

Monday, October 6, 2008

'Rookwood' Owl Rides at Woolly Bear Parade

Our wonderful, Great-horned Owl, Rookwood, was one of the hits of the annual Woolly Bear Festival parade in Vermilion yesterday. Cleveland Plain Dealer photographer Lynn Ischay grabbed this great close-up of Rookwood as he perched on the arm of Schuele Planetarium Director Jay Reynolds, a long-time participant in the festival and parade. Rookwood and Jay got to ride in a fancy convertible, but it was Rookwood that was featured on the front of the PD's Metro section. More of Lynn's images from the Woolly Bear Fest can be found at

Fall Family Hayride Fun!

We enjoyed spectacular weather for the first of two Fall Family Hayride Nights at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center on Friday night.

Families enjoyed pizza, pasta, grilled dogs and more for supper, plus two fun crafts for the kids, live animal encounters, planterium shows and the perfect evening for a haywagon ride around Huntington Reservation.

Another Hayride Night is coming up October 24 and it will take on a Halloween theme complete with a costumed, Trick or Treat parade through our Wildlife Gardens. There's still time to pre-register for that event, so check out details on our website!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Broad-winged Hawk Returns to the Wild

Unless you're directly involved with the day to day operation of our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Department, it's a treat to witness the release of a patient who's made a successful recovery. Such was the case on this gorgeous autmun day, when staff and volunteers tagged along as a Broad-winged Hawk took flight and made its way back into the wild following rehabilitation. The bird has a long journey ahead, as it's time to join the migration to South America! Thanks to all the great community champions of our Wildlife Rehab program, which is able to offer education and rehab services free to the public because of that generous financial support!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall Guided Birding Trips

The first of two opportunities to make a guided autumn birding trip with Center Executive Director Larry Richardson is coming up Saturday (September 27) so get your registration in today and plan to meet at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 6:30 a.m. for a 7:00 a.m. carpool departure. Return time to the Center is 5:00 p.m. Registration is limited to 10 people for each trip and the fee is $5 per person. If you can't make it this Saturday, Larry will leading another fall birding trip on October 11(same times.) Read this WestShore Magazine profile for details on the credentials of your expert guide!

Here's how Larry describes the fall migration and these two trips... and note the disclaimers at the bottom:

Not too many years ago fall bird migration was a lonely experience. More and more birders have come to realize that fall migration of warblers, sparrows, shorebirds, raptors and waterfowl can be as spectacular as spring migration. Our two fall trips in September and October aim to capture as much of fall migration diversity as possible. These fall trips, like spring trips, can be astonishing or they can be as challenging as the changing weather.

Our destination will most likely be west to western basin Lake Erie marshes and shores, but we won’t know exactly until we size up bird reports, weather forecasts and develop our most likely itinerary for success. Bring a scope (I'll have mine), binoculars, clothing for all weather, snacks, drinks and lunch. Please register with the Center at 440-871-2900 no later than Thursday September 25th for either or both programs. Call the same number and direct questions to Larry.

Trip Leader's Disclaimer: The trip leader is not responsible for acts of God, earthquakes, hurricanes, fall blizzards or discomfort experienced by participants. Participants will likely need to endure gibberish and useless information. There will be a surcharge for the unlikelihood any actual facts are provided by the leader.

Guarantee: We will have fun and we will see birds. I look forward to another glorious day in the field (and that is a fact!).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Miss Jenn's Expedition to Belize

Hi, Miss Jenn here!
I am very excited to
share with you an
amazing opportunity
I had
this summer!
Less than two months ago, I was hiking through a tropical rainforest searching for howler monkeys, snorkeling along the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, tracking the endangered Antillean manatee, going on a moonlight sea turtle walk, exploring the ruins of Altun Ha an ancient Mayan city, touring the "best little zoo in the world", and learning and laughing with Belizean teachers and students. All of these exciting, memorable “firsts” for me took place in the beautiful country of Belize. Referred to by Belizeans as “The Jewel”, this gem of a country lies on the eastern coastline of Central America, bordered on the north by Mexico, on the west and south by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea. Although Belize is only slightly larger than Massachusetts, the country formally known as British Honduras(until 1973), has more species of birds, butterflies, flowers, and trees than found in all of the United States!

It was thanks to Earth Expeditions that I, as a nature enthusiast, environmental educator, and traveler, was able to spend ten amazing days exploring, experiencing, and learning about the diverse ecosystems, important conservation projects, and fascinating cultures found in Belize.

Earth Expeditions, created in conjunction with Project Dragonfly at Miami University and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, is a global conservation program offering university courses in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Through Field and Zoo Expedition courses, the program’s mission is to build an alliance of individuals with firsthand knowledge of inquiry-driven, community-based learning for the benefit of ecological communities, student achievement, and global understanding. I was instantly attracted to Earth Expeditions because of the program’s inspiring mission, hands-on inquiry-driven format, extraordinary field locations and affiliations, interesting course themes, and talented faculty.

I was drawn to the Belize Field Expedition course
because I was interested in the forest and marine ecology-focused course themes and related conservation projects, and I have always wanted to experience a Neotropical country, climate, and culture firsthand. From the moment my plane began its flight path over Belize and all I could see out my window was a blanket of dark green bordered by aqua blue waters, I was overcome with the country’s beauty, exoticness, and uniqueness.

Every day, I was learning and experiencing something new, interesting, and rewarding. In addition to all the valuable knowledge and meaningful experiences I gained during the Expedition, I also came home with fresh ideas and perspectives, new friends and important contacts, and a better understanding of what it is I want to do and accomplish both professionally and personally. The trip got my creative juices flowing, and I am excited and inspired to incorporate my wonderful experiences into my teachings here at LENSC. In short, the Belize Field Expedition is synonymous with worthwhile. It was my time and money well spent!

Although the field component is over with, I still have three more months of coursework & class discussions via Dragonfly Workshops Web-based learning community. Upon completion in
December, I will receive 7 graduate credits from my alumna mater, Miami University, that can be counted towards the University’s new Global Field Program Master's Degree which I am planning on applying to come fall. Now, I just need to decide which Field Expedition I want to go on next summer…Kenya, Trinidad, Thailand…decisions, decisions(and an exciting one at that!) stay tuned!

If you have any questions about
Earth Expeditions and/or Miami
University’s Global Field Program,
please do not hesitate to contact
me at

For additional information on the programs and the field sites I visited in Belize, click on the above underlined words and/or visit the websites listed below:
Earth Expeditions:
Earth Expeditions –Belize: Forest & Marine Ecology:
Miami University’s Global Field Program:
The Belize Zoo:
The Community Baboon Sanctuary:
Gales Point Manatee Lodge:
Maya site, Altun Ha, information:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thank You for Supporting Survivor Mexico!

We're still totaling up the numbers, but by every measure so far, this year's Survivor Mexico Annual Benefit was a smashing success! Pictures from our South-of-the-border party and auction are posted here as well as in this week's WestLife and West Shore Sun newspapers. Check out even more photos in the Sun's online party photo album. Look for additional coverage in upcoming issues of West Shore Magazine and Currents. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the event, especially our Co-Chairs, Martha West, Marianna Orro and Alyssa Kamm, pictured with the mariachi trio and all of our generous donors and underwriters!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back In Business!

We look forward to welcoming our visitors, class and program participants back to Lake Erie Nature & Science Center today! Yes, the power and phone system are back on! We thank everyone for your patience and understanding during the outage. See you at the Center soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Power Outage Affects Center

For the second day in a row, the power outage affecting so many of our neighbors in Northeast Ohio continues to impact Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. We are at half power, with limited lighting, etc. that allows us to care for our animals. However, our phone system is down and so is the sewage system that would allow us to operate toilets, etc. For that reason, we were forced to close the Center and to cancel classes on Monday and Tuesday ... just as you and your little ones were looking forward to starting a new year of preschool classes!
Because our phones are down and we were not yet registered with the television stations for the upcoming winter cancellation season, our website is the key tool we have left to keep you updated on our power status. We are able to access our Website using a laptop and WiFi Internet connection at our Bay Village neighbor, Mojo's. Please know that the Center is committed to reopening as soon as full power is restored. We are making separate decisions to cancel classes in the a.m. and p.m., so even if morning classes are canceled, check the orange Homepage Alert Box at midday if you are an afternoon student.
We thank you for your patience, we hope you and your family are safe and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Center soon!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Huntington Beach Clean Up A Success!

About 25 volunteers of all ages answered Lake Erie Nature & Science Center's call to help clean and monitor the health of Huntington Beach in Bay Village. The Center is led an official adopt-a-Beach clean-up on Saturday, September 6. Carla Roth, who led the effort for the Center, guided volunteers in picking up garbage along the Lake Erie shoreline and counting and tallying the litter. The finished data will be sent to the Adopt-a-Beach program, which is spearheaded by the Chicago- based Alliance for the Great Lakes.
“The final tabulations compiled by Adopt-a-Beach officials will give us insight into how healthy our lakes are, and what else we can do to take action,” said Roth, Education Program & Administrative Specialist. Carla also waded in to Lake Erie to take water samples for some simple and sophisticated tests, including a screen for E coli bacteria.” Thanks to everyone who turned out!

Read more about the clean up in WestLife or in our online newsroom.