The Environmental Lecture Series was established at Ashland University after the Environmental Science program was implemented in 1991-92. The lecture series was designed to support the Environmental Science program by allowing students, faculty and members of North Central Ohio communities to interact with leaders in environmental science and policy. Over the years, the lecture series has generated significant campus and community involvement and support. Recent lectures are archived for viewing on this webpage.
Working with the community
The Environmental Science Program supports and co-sponsors a variety of outreach programs targeted K-12 students and teachers and the regional community. Many of these efforts use the Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center or another of the five Ashland University Environmental Preserves to support hands-on experience in natural ecosystems.
Community Programming Includes:
- Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center (BFWESC)
- Mohican District Science Day
- Environmental Lecture Series
- High School Lecture & Luncheon (9-12th)
- Kettering Scholars (8th)
- Naturalist on Duty
- Nature walks with community groups
The BFWESC was established in 2005 after a major grant from the Clean Ohio Fund allowed for substantial expansion of conserved habitats included in the Black Fork Wetlands Preserve. Funds also supported boardwalk and parking lot construction that allows for public access to this 300-acre preserve. Since 2005, the BFWESC has sponsored or co-sponsored numerous school groups from Ashland, Richland, and surrounding counties, as well as teacher development workshops promoted by the Environmental Education Council of Ohio.
Established in 1991, the Lecture Series is designed to provide students, faculty and residents of North Central Ohio with the opportunity to interact with prominent environmental scientists from around the country. This series is free and open to the public, and has been supported by grants from GTE Foundation, the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation, the Lubrizol Foundation, and support from Ashland University. The lecture series is publicized in local newspapers, and current lectures are archived for viewing on our website.
Each year, 100 high school students from area high schools are invited for a talk by a prominent environmental scientist, followed by a luncheon and question period to provide them with the opportunity to interact with the speaker. The only cost to the high schools has been to provide transportation to the Ashland University campus. This program was initiated in 1999 with a grant from the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation, and has continued each year since thanks to a variety of sponsors.
This program was established in 1999 for honors eighth grade students from Ashland Middle School. Fifteen to eighteen participants experience a lab with a different faculty member each month during the academic year. Field-oriented labs have included analysis of pigments involved color changes in leaves in Fall, spring wildflowers at Fowler Woods, and aquatic ecology of the Black Fork Wetland Preserve followed by microscopic examination of the samples in lab. Kettering Scholar alumni (12th grade) return during high school for advanced lab activities.
Starting in 2016, the Naturalist on Duty program has been offering short programs and informal learning options in an open-house format. These events are offered monthly on a Saturday during summer and fall. AU environmental science faculty collaborate with Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists to host visitors.
EVS faculty members have hosted nature walks with members of regional community groups for many years. A recent example was the day trip planned with the Mohican Native Plant Society to explore plant diversity at the Dayspring Preserve in Coshocton Co.
We've been offering the free Environmental Lectures Series since 1991, and we'd be happy to have you join us. All lectures will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall of the Schar College of Education.
This center hosts 300 acres, spanning several habitats for you to conduct research and view species like: beaver, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, soras, and sandhill cranes.
We manage five environmental preserves that support undergraduate and faculty research and habitat conservation. The Preserve Manager Is Dr. Richard Stoffer. Students may become involved in studies of the biological and physical attributes and processes that characterize these preserves. Each preserve contains unique habitat and wildlife and thus offers a variety of study opportunities.
Other Parks and Preserves in the Area
The AU Rock and Ohio Flora Garden is located next to the SW entrance to the Kettering Science Center Building. It includes examples of many rock types, as well as examples of native Ohio plants that work well as garden and landscaping plants. The garden was made possible in 2007 by a donation from Dr. Elizabeth Richmond in memory of Samuel I. Richmond, whose efforts helped secure funding for the original Kettering Science Center building.
Learn more about the plant species in our garden:
- Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)
- Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
- Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
- White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
- Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
- Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)
- Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
- Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
- Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)
- Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
- Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
- Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
- Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
- American hophornbean (Ostrya virginiana)
- White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata)
- Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)
- Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sp.)
- Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- and more... (to be cont.)
Learn more about the rocks in our garden:
- Porphyritic Granite
- Mylonitic gneiss
- Garnet sillimanite gneiss
- Blastomylonitic Gneiss with Glacial Striations
- Garnet Gneiss
- Biotite-hornblende Gneiss
- Granitic Gneiss with Quartz-Feldspar Vein (Pegmatite)
- Oolitic Indiana limestone
- Mudstone with mud cracks
- Massillon Sandstone
- Garnet wollastonite skarn
- Anorthosite (Adirondacks)
- Diopside Rock
These resources are popular library databases that our science students choose to utilize semester after semester. NOTE: a student ID and password is required.
It's a part of college - completing an internship in the field. Start here by accessing some popular internship resources for science majors.
In addition to AU's financial aid program and Choose Ohio First scholarship program for science majors, there are other organizations interested in supporting the education and training of environmental science students in particular.
- The Ohio Environmental Science & Environmental Engineering Scholarship Program (Deadline April 15)
- Buckeye Trail Association Scholarship (Deadline April 1)
In 2013, Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer was contacted by Perry Gottesfeld of Occupational Knowledge International with a question about the safety of cookware. Mr. Gottesfeld was working with colleagues at an NGO (see: http://www.crepdcm.com/) in Cameroon to reduce toxic exposures from lead paint, when questions were raised about the possible hazards of the aluminum cookware that most people there use. In Cameroon, and throughout the developing world, the recycling of scrap aluminum into cookware is a widespread practice. After a preliminary investigation we learned that source materials can include items such as old engine blocks, radiators, and computer parts.
Pots awaiting sale in a Cameroon marketDr. Weidenhamer and several AU students – Peter Kobunski, Alison Biro, and Meghann Fitzpatrick – along with AU colleagues Dr. Rebecca Corbin and Dr. Michael Hudson, set out to investigate the hazards of this cookware by looking at the metals that leached from the pots in dilute vinegar solutions that mimicked mildly acidic solutions that are often used for cooking. Working with Mr. Gottesfeld, and beginning with cookware from Cameroon and then ten other developing nations, they found a number of cookware items that released toxic levels of lead during simulated cooking. The worst was a pot from Viet Nam that yielded more than 1400 micrograms of lead per serving. Other metals detected in the leachates of some pots included arsenic and cadmium, and almost all of the items released levels of aluminum that exceed World Health Organization guidelines.
The studies, which have been published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, have encouraged researchers in Cameroon, South Africaand other countriesto conduct follow-up studies to assess the...Read more
Dr. Daiva (Gerbec) Mitchell (’13) completed her MD at the University of Toledo School of Medicine (MD) in Spring 2019, and is currently a resident in Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Daiva writes,
“Ashland University was the perfect school to prepare me for medical school and my career as a physician. With the small class sizes, I was able to get to know my professors and easily find mentors and research opportunities. Also, with Ashland's wide variety of clubs and groups, I was able to develop my professional and leadership skills while in college. Finally, with Ashland's focus on Christian values, I grew in my compassion for others which has impacted the way I care for my patients now.”
Dr. Aaron Tipton (’13) also completed his MD at the University of Toledo School of Medicine (MD) in Spring 2019, and is a General Surgery resident at the Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Aaron writes,
“The experience at Ashland University prepared me for medical school in many ways from knowledge, critical thinking and a love for learning. Every class was taught by a professor who was passionate about the subject. They inspired me to become a lifelong learner, which is one of the most important traits of becoming a physician.”
Dr. Kayla Prokopakis (’15) completed her DO at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Spring 2019, and is an Emergency Medicine resident at Mercy Health -St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital in Boardman, Ohio.Kayla writes,
“Ashland University prepared me for medical school and my professional career in more...Read more
Cillian writes that the feedback she received will be useful for other presentations of her research in the coming year, and that she was able to see projects that that Honors Students around the country are working on. While in New Orleans, Cillian had the opportunity to check out a couple of museums related to her scientific interests – the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum and the New Orleans Museum of Death, which has memorabilia related to famous crimes among other forensic-related topics.
The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum (photos below) was located in a pharmacy that was founded in the 1800s. The building housed old pharmaceutical equipment and various questionable medications. Tinctures ranged from mixtures of cocaine and red wine, to heroin and sodas. In addition, there was no shortage of heavy metals, including lead coated pills for the rich, and lead baby bottles to sooth young ones. Overall, Cillian found the museum was very educational and interesting, particularly for Toxicology majors.