Huston-Brumbaugh Nature Center Offers Opportunities for Everyone

April 08, 2010

The John T. Huston - Dr. John D. Brumbaugh Nature Center is open to anyone who is interested in environmental education. According to Patricia Rickard, program coordinator and resident naturalist, various community groups and Mount Union College students have visited the center, but the general public is always welcome.
Rickard compiles a list of scheduled workshops and secures speakers for different Nature Center events. She also shares in the responsibility of leading workshops. She definitely wants people to know that the Nature Center is extremely accessible. "We aren't a recreational park, but people can still come to experience and enjoy nature," she says. The property's trails are open dawn to dusk.

During the summer, the Nature Center hosts summer camps, day camps, daycares and scout groups. The staff takes preschool and daycare aged children on discovery hikes, teaches them about the characteristics of different seasons, holds learning circles and helps them with sensory exploration. "We teach the children primary, basic things, but we believe that actually experiencing nature is more of a hook for them than being in the classroom," Rickard notes.

The site where the Nature Center is located was donated in 1986 and its buildings were constructed in 1991. The area features a number of trails, a barn, and animals. The barn dates back to 1860 and houses a miniature donkey, sheep and goats.

Twenty-five acres on the east side of the property have never been cut, logged, or grazed. There is a pond with frogs, turtles and fish. There is also a butterfly garden with plants designed specifically to attract butterflies and caterpillars. In the Visitors Center, there is a bird observatory, where visitors can sit and view the activities of birds right outside.

One of the newest additions to the Nature Center is the boardwalk trail, which is part of a three-year project. The staff began brainstorming and thought that they should make the area more manageable for handicapped people. With a large grant from the Soil and Water Conservation District, volunteer work was began on the trail by Mount Union students, scout groups, and a local Kiwanis group.

The trail is fashioned in a loop, and visitors can use it to make their way from the barn to the Visitors Center and back again, which, according to Rickard "is especially good on muddy days." The trail is made from plastic drawn from recycled milk jugs.

For ten years, Rickard has been a part of the Nature Center staff. She loves being out in the woods and has fun "introducing people to the friends I know in nature." As the naturalist, she is an expert on the natural history of Northeast Ohio and has an ability to identify the area's different plants and animals with ease.

The Nature Center is hosting several workshops later this summer, beginning with "Zooming in on Pond Life" on Saturday, July 26.

The Nature Center is located six miles south of Mount Union College on Daniel Street, just off Route 183.

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