Summertime is here, and with it comes a tradition — the Conservation Camp! Many of Ohio’s 88 soil and water conservation districts sponsor these camps each year, helping to reach local youngsters in a way that is both fun and educational.
It is a well known fact that people need to care about something before it’s important to them.
Before we care about something, we need to learn about how it affects our lives to understand why it should be important to us. As conservation districts, one of our main purposes is to promote the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources for this generation and those that follow us.
This is the reason why Conservation Camp an important event in the Guernsey SWCD educational programming. It has been held each summer for over 20 years; long enough for some of the kids who attended in the past to now send their own children to camp.
Our camp runs for two days, and is held at Moore Memorial Woods, a property that was donated to the district several years ago to be used as a land lab for educational purposes. Each year, 50 kids attend, and groups are escorted through a series of stations throughout the day.
By getting outdoors in the woods, they are able to interact with environment and learn how they affect it, whether in a positive or negative way.
This year, our camp theme is on pollinators, and each station is geared toward learning about why pollination is so important; scientific experiments, games, hiking, and crafts give each student an opportunity to learn in their own way.
On the first day, students will learn about how and why flowers are designed to attract pollinators. They will learn about honey bees and why they are important to humans, and also about hummingbirds and butterflies. They will play games and go on hikes and make crafts.
When they return home, they’ll have some great ideas to help make their own backyards better homes for pollinators.
On the second day, students will spend the morning touring “The Wilds”, a 10,000-acre wildlife conservation center where they will see camels, giraffes, bison, zebras, rhinos and other wild animals.
The Wilds has a 4-acre butterfly habitat where the students will be able to observe butterflies and the flowers that they pollinate.
Now, what is the point of all this? Well, let’s go back to our original purpose; promoting the conservation and sustained use of natural resources.
Pollinators are very important to the environment in that they aid plants in reproduction. And why should that be important to us? We want the kids who attend our conservation camp to leave with the understanding that pollination provides them with food and shelter.
We want them to have a better understanding of how they personally help or hinder this process through the things they do in their daily life. But most of all, we hope that they have fun while learning about conserving our natural resources.
If you have a youngster you care about who would enjoy attending a camp, contact your local SWCD office to see if they sponsor a conservation camp in your area.
But don’t let the kids be the only ones to have fun and learn! Here are some simple steps you can take in your yard to create habitat and help pollinators survive and thrive!
• Plant a pollinator garden. Select a variety of colors, and vary blooming times to provide food all summer.
• Reduce chemical misuse. Cut back on insecticides that can harm beneficial insects, too.
• Reduce your area of lawn grass. Grass lawns offer little food or shelter for most wildlife, so try planting more native flowers, trees and shrubs.
• Provide water. All wildlife, including pollinators, need water. Try putting out a shallow bowl with some rocks to land on. Remember to change water often to avoid hatching mosquitoes.
(Lisa Rodenfels is district program administrator for Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District. She has been with the district for more than eight years.)