Nature Study Retreat is for everyone!
By Mary Lee Minor
The traditions of a Nature Study Retreat week are woven with thoughts of getting away, accepting a slower pace and remaining in harmony with the natural world. As we planned to have headquarters at Mohican Outdoor School there was excitement. We are ready to issue an enthusiastic invitation to everyone who longs to be away from phones, meetings and paved roads. You do not have to be an OAGC member to attend!
We assemble on Sunday evening, June 2, and settle into sturdy bunks in dormitories. Monday morning, after grabbing coffee, we are off to listen for birds and any other woods’ creatures before Monday’s breakfast at 8. Mohican director Donna Dvoracek, will guide our introductory walk through the property. The enormous rock out-croppings take us back to an 88-foot waterfall known as Hemlock Falls. This scenic spot offers wildflowers. We will stop in on the Field Trip Center where composting toilets are a realistic application of saving resources.
After lunch, more on-site experiences will fill the afternoon and bring us to an evening meal and the plant auction. Each person coming brings a tempting or interesting plant, named. The auction is a pleasant way to raise funds to meet the costs of the retreat week. Our campfire singing will be directed by Mohican staff.Tuesday, June 4, the group will head to Black Fork Wetlands where Ashland University research students along with Merrill Tawse, Biology instructor at Ashland University, have studied rails (birds) and placed transmitters on them. Eagles have nested here and we will watch for sandhill cranes. On this day a box lunch will be planned. After dinner, bats will be our evening program with Don and Diana Plant, who are very dedicated to all bats. They are avid blue birders, too.
Our Wednesday begins and ends with Steve McKee who retired from Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield. That afternoon we will travel with him to Malabar Farm and trek the Doris Duke Trail. He plans to remain through his evening program. Steve’s naturalist skills make him worth his weight in gold.
Thursday’s morning bird hike begins with Lori Totman, who spent years at the Dawes Arboretum as a naturalist, and now serves as director of Knox County Parks. After breakfast Lori will wander with us identifying wildflowers. Following lunch, Groovy Plants Ranch owner, Liz Hughes is bringing a small hypertufa planter, soil and an assortment of tiny succulents for each of us. With a little time before dinner, we can regroup. That evening live salamanders and a hellbender (Ohio’s largest salamander) are coming with Josh Dyer, Crawford County Parks director. In the midst of all this activity we will also experience some craft projects.
Mohican School in the Out-of-Doors has served as school for many Ohio children. In fact pioneer cooking and some living history drama may be included in our week. You may want to make this your vacation.