EcoTrack 11: Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

Report by Chris Vickers - email | bio
Posted by LS

OTTAWA COUNTY (WTOL) - Fifth graders from Genoa are bursting with questions. They want to know more about wildlife living right here in northwest Ohio.

Refuge Naturalist Laura Bonneau tells them, "You guys are pretty lucky here in Ottawa County. Do you know how many national wildlife refuges there are in Ohio?"

The answer is three, and all of them are in Ottawa County.

First stop for students is the new Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge visitor center for a look at life on the marsh -- now and then.

Fisheries Biologist Eric Weimer explains, "200-300 years ago, most of the shoreline of Lake Erie from Port Clinton to Detroit looked a lot like this: one big wetland."

A wetland that is very important to the fish living in the lake.

Science Teacher Chris Fruth is just as excited as the kids about his first trip to the refuge. "I find it amazing. I love it. I'm enjoying myself so much. It's a beautiful day out here. I hope the kids enjoy it as much as I am right now," he says.

"No laughing if I fall in," he tells the students.

These students are learning that conservation and protecting the local environment are no laughing matter. This isn't a free day. There is a test at the end of the trip.

The trip is in conjunction with the standards that we use for the Ohio Achievement Test. It's a lesson not found in a text book. Fifth Grader Aulora Nissen tells us, "I have learned that there are many exotic fish here in North America that shouldn't be."

Another fifth grader, Kole Hessling, tells us, "Some fish should stay in their habitat, so they don't attack the other fish."