EVS Outreach

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:
  • Environmental Lecture Series
  • High School Lecture & Luncheon (9-12th)
  • Kettering Scholars (8th)
  • Chemistry Camp
  • Geology Camp
  • Honors Institute (10-11th)
  • Nature Walks

Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center

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.

Environmental Lecture Series

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.

High School Lecture & Luncheon (9-12th)

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.

Kettering Scholars (8th)

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) return during high school for advanced lab activities.

Chemistry Camp

Twenty students per session attend four or five half-day sessions during one week in summer. The cost is kept minimal, and scholarships are provided for students for whom the cost is prohibitive.

Geology Camp

Twenty students per session attend four or five half-day sessions during one week in summer. The cost is kept minimal, and scholarships are provided for students for whom the cost is prohibitive.

Honors Institute (10-11th)

From 2006 to 2008, gifted and talented 10th and 11th grade students from around Ohio had the option of Wetlands and Plant Ecology for a their summer intensive course. Led by Dr. Soren Brauner, this course focuses on the ecology of wetlands, particularly the challenges and opportunities for wetland plants. What are their adaptations for living in different amounts of water and light? Students identified the plants (and other organisms) present in different wetland habitats, carried out experiments with a portable photosynthesis system to learn more about physiological adaptations of plants in different environments, and did DNA-fingerprinting to investigate the invasion of a non-native species. Lab investigations were combined with field trips to the Black Fork Wetlands and other environmental preserves in the region.

Nature Walks

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.