Photo credit: Max Saeling, Unsplash
Each year, April 7th is recognized as International Beaver Day! There are two distinct species of beavers; the Eurasian beaver found in Europe and Asia, and the American beaver found across North America, including here in Ohio. April is when our native beavers start to emerge after several months of confinement in their lodges during the winter. These animals are well adapted to life in the water, equipped with webbed feet, a flat tail, clear "third-eyelids", and waterproof fur!
Beavers are also the world’s second largest rodent. The rodent family is known for having those big front teeth. And unlike their famous "wood chuck" cousins, beavers actually put those chompers to use felling trees for food, lodge and dam construction, and to create wetlands. Wetlands are special aquatic ecosystems that work as nature's filtration system, cleaning pollutants out of the water. These traits earn the American beaver the title of nature's best engineer! Want to learn more and do a fun activity with the kids? Check out Warren County SWCD’s program Dress Like a Beaver on YouTube!
The Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District has gained a new team member: Maryann the freshwater mussel. Maryann is very passionate about the water quality of her river because she is a filter feeder! If the water quality in her river is poor, Maryann will be negatively affected by a toxic diet. Freshwater mussels help keep our rivers clean, making them vital to the aquatic ecosystems in Ohio.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 11 freshwater mussel species have become extinct, and 46 more are struggling on the endangered species list. The Ohio river basin, encompassing 14 states and over 25 million people, is home to 41% of freshwater mussel species native to North America. Our streams and rivers empty into the basin, eventually emptying into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Freshwater mussels filter feed anything and everything we dump into our rivers, causing mussel species in Ohio to be disproportionately affected due to dense populations of mussel species. More specifically, the Little Miami River holds 36 species of freshwater mussels, including two threatened species.
Not only are mussels threatened by water pollution, they are also fighting for resources with the invasive Zebra Mussel species. Zebra mussels are native to Eurasian freshwater bodies, but spread through dumping ballast water into the Great Lakes by ships from Europe. Zebra mussels thrived in this new environment with no natural predators, allowing them to spread rapidly across the country. Native mussel species are reducing in number due to these invasive mussels, causing a decline in overall biodiversity in our rivers.
Freshwater mussels are vital for our rivers’ ecosystem filtration, but many species are declining in population due harvesting for shiny buttons, and nutrient rich sea food in the past. Human impact on the freshwater mussel population can be greatly reduced by keeping our rivers clean, helping to reverse the negative affects of previous harvesting. According to the Ohio River Foundation, our river is a source of drinking water for more than five million people. Without freshwater mussels digesting harmful bacteria such as E. coli, our rivers would become very dirty.
Article written by WCSWCD Intern Abbey Raison
It is incredibly important that we all do our part to prevent water pollution in our river and consume fewer mussel products to protect the native species of freshwater mussels.
You can adopt a mussel just like Maryann! Visit https://secure.donationpay.org/ohioriverfdn/adopt.php to adopt the mussel of your choice, and help the Ohio River Foundation protect the freshwater mussel population. According to the Ohio River Foundation website, "The donors of the Adopt a Mussel program provide much needed funds for food, aquariums and other supplies needed to care for and house these important conservation ambassadors for our Mussels in the Classroom program." These education initiatives align with those of Warren County SWCD and we are proud to support water quality education!
For questions regarding Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District programs and/or technical assistance on water or soil questions, visit http://warrenswcd.com or call, 513-695-1337.
As 2020 draws to a close, I am so proud of all of the educators across our county and state that have excelled through these unique and challenging times to continue bringing quality education to our students. Bravo! While 2021 will be a chance to continue exploring and using these new remote learning options we have all been trying to master, hopefully we will see a return to some of our in person programming as well! Until then, are you in need of some holiday STEM fun? Then check out some awesome STEM programs from Hooked on Science!
Calling all pre-K readers in training (and their care givers!). The Warren County Imagination Library has a goal to deliver free books to all children from birth to age five across Warren County. The theme of this program is “Every Child Reads Every Day.” Staff at Warren County SWCD can personally attest to the wonders this program has brought some of our own children!
"As of October 5, 2020, there are more than 5,900 children registered for the program in Warren County which is 44.7 percent of the eligible population. More than 45,000 books are projected to be mailed free to the registered children for 2020. This generational change started in early November 2019, when Commissioner Shannon Jones convened a group of Warren County leaders at the Warren County Foundation to learn about the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library. Within a few weeks, the five library districts decided to fund a three-year pilot program. The Warren County Literacy Fund has been established for this purpose."
Children can be registered at www.ohioimaginationlibrary.org/enroll.
The founding partners include: Franklin-Springboro Public Library, Lebanon Public Library, Mary L. Cook Public Library, Mason Public Library, Salem Township Public Library, United Way of Warren County, and Warren County Foundation. Other partners are joining every day.
For more information, direct questions or inquiries to: Warren County Imagination Library (Warren County Foundation), 118 East Main St., Lebanon, OH 45036 – 513-254-1001 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Did you know that we have wild turkeys right here in Ohio? While they have many things in common with their domestic cousins, they also have some unique wild traits!
Learn some fun facts about wild turkeys from what they eat to how they communicate; and what the heck is a dust bath?? Watch this fun, short video to find out!
With over twelve different calls, the Wild Turkey is no stranger to good
communication. From the gobble to the cluck, the sounds of the Wild Turkey let you know exactly what they are doing. Some of the most common turkey calls include:
• Tree Call – This call is typically made from the roost in a tree first thing in the morning.
• Gobble – This call is made primarily by male turkeys in the spring to attract female turkeys for mating.
• Putt – This is a short, one-syllabled alarm call. When used in a series, it indicates that the turkey has seen or heard danger.
• Cluck – This call is usually in a series of short, soft notes. It is used to get the attention of another turkey.
• Purr – A soft, rolling call, the purr is often made by content turkeys mainly when they are feeding.
• Assembly Call – This call is usually made by the adult hen when calling her young poults.
Want to make your own turkey call? Grab a small plastic cup (K-pod cups or small play-dough containers work great!) and some string and follow these easy instructions!
In 2019, Ohio government recognized National Bat Week. National Bat Week is every year from October 24th – October 31st. National Bat Week is an annual, international celebration of the role of bats in nature and raise awareness about the need for bat conservation. Visit the National Bat Week’s website at www.batweek.org for more information on bats and how to take action not matter where you are.
Ohio Bat Week Video Series:
Ohio Bat Working Group members have created a series of videos for Bat Week and beyond! These videos were created to address a variety of topics related to bats in Ohio with the intent to aid educators in preparing and delivering bat programs.
Check out these videos which include videos from Warren County SWCD Education & Communications Specialist, Melissa!
Educators, did you get a chance to check out the virtual Greater Cincinnati Environmental Educators Expo this year? If not, take a sneak peek at the session presented by our Education Specialist, Melissa! She presents on the various program options teachers can do with worm observations, and is joined by Clermont SWCD educator to discuss the new SW Ohio Education Site.
Check out the segment from the conference below!
(This conference is usually hosted by the Cincinnati Zoo, so enjoy an animal encounter during the first 15 minutes of the video or jump to the 15 minute mark to begin the lesson presentation!)
As schools prepare for the 2020/2021 school year, more districts are relying on remote learning to deliver educational content during the global pandemic. Here at Warren County SWCD, we remain committed to aiding fellow teachers and educators in providing environmental education.
We are offering many virtual options for programming as well as providing electronic resources for educators. These options can be explored through our new Virtual Classroom page on our website!
We are also working in collaboration with other Southwest Ohio educators to develop a one stop website with multiple online lessons, activities, and videos. We will continually update and add education resources so stay tuned!
2020 has seen a significant increase in remote learning options and curriculum due to the coronavirus pandemic. Great collaborations and partnerships in the education world are creating amazing online learning opportunities. Project WILD from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is no exception!
For the new WILD about Remote Learning Page the organization states, "As universities, colleges, and schools move learning online in the wake of the coronavirus spread and COVID-19, many educators are interested in how to conduct WILD activities remotely. See below for ideas and resources to guide students through WILD activities at their own location. If you have additional ideas or resources, feel free to send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay WILD and healthy!"
Here at Warren County SWCD our education staff has created some video lesson content to support some of these online Project WILD activities!
For all of the Remote Project WILD activities click HERE
For more remote lesson ideas from Warren County SWCD click HERE