By Amy Nicolai, AmeriCorps AORC Member

The Rural Action Environmental Education team (plus Trevor from Camp Oty’Okwa) road-tripped to the Edge of Appalachia’s Eulett Center for a day of peer training and fun on Jan. 20.

Led by Robyn Wright-Strauss and AmeriCorps duo Brittany Spratt and Nathan Miller, the EE team soaked in information that was enriching and interesting. They enjoyed indoor sessions, outdoor activities, and a fantastic baked potato bar lunch.

When the team arrived, Wright-Strauss described the unique geological diversity of Adams County; how the 20,000 acre preserve came to be, and how the land is acquired and managed as it grows.

Adams County is the only county in Ohio that features naturally exposed bedrock from four major geologic time periods: Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, and Mississippian — a range of over 186 million years. Half of the types of flora and fauna that call Ohio home have been found in Adams County. Now that’s diverse!

The outdoor activities involved exploration of the grounds around the Eulett Center. The first activity was a blustery sensory walk down a sloped trail to a large decomposing tree. The second activity, “Color My World”, was a color “hunt.”

The team members matched paper color paint swatches to leaves, twigs, berries, stones, bark, pine needles, grass, and seeds. The third activity was a bingo/scavenger hunt compe

tition. The team searched a stretch of trail that led through a disturbed area where reindeer lichen and moss bed the ground among aged red cedar trees. It didn’t take long for a spirit of competition to set in among participants.

The indoor segments involved classroom education techniques that focused on animal winter adaptations and fossils. Spratt led the Animals in Winter lesson with a Venn diagram of overwintering strategies of animals in our region. Wright-Strauss presented a fossil activity called “Opulent Ordovician” using beautiful video visual aids and video, real fossils, and their modern-day counterparts.

The last activity was exploration of the Edge’s physical specimen collection. The team was permitted to see hundreds of the thousands of organisms that are meticulously preserved, labeled, and organized. Wright-Strauss opened doors and drawers of bottles, vials, miniature trays, and more for the team to explore. It was a real feast for the eyes.

The EE field trip to the Edge of Appalachia was a highlight of the service term and they look forward to future visits when service opportunities arise. It’s a beautiful part of Ohio that deserves exploration by those who seek solace in nature.

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