OSU, ODNR partner to open natural resources center


LONDON, Ohio — They call the Gwynne Conservation Area an “exploratorium,” and now there’s an even better reason to go there and explore.

      Officials from The Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources dedicated a new Natural Resources Interpretive Center in the conservation area Sept. 19 during the 2000 Farm Science Review.

      The new building, built through a unique partnership between the university and the ODNR, will turn the outdoor learning center into a year-round educational facility.

      The Gwynne Conservation Area is part of Ohio State’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio, home of the Farm Science Review.

      “In my 40 years of education, I don’t think I’ve seen a better setting for a classroom,” said OSU President William E. (“Brit”) Kirwan during the dedication ceremonies.

      The new center sits in the middle of the conservation area on a hill overlooking Deer Creek. It will be available to schools, conservation groups, Extension or SWCD offices, and to other individuals or groups as an indoor classroom for natural resources education or training.

      The building, which was just completed Sept. 16, has already been booked for 11 events in coming months.

      Ever since the first wetland was constructed on a former Review soybean field in the early 1980s, Review organizers have talked about having such a building in the conservation area.

      When state bond issue NatureWorks funding became available for such a project, Craig Fendrick, Review manager, and Larry Vance, head of the ODNR’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation, started hammering out the details.

      Construction on the 3,100-square-foot log structure started during the 1998 Farm Science Review. The $225,000 education center includes a meeting room, restroom facilities and a small kitchen.

      “It’s something for all of us,” said Vance during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “This is here in the center of Ohio, for all of you.”

      The Gwynne itself is an outdoor classroom, illustrating conservation practices for areas near streams; reforestation; grassland management; wetland construction and uses; a wildlife food plot; pond design and maintenance; and livestock stock tank design and setup. A soil pit that shows a profile of Miamian silt loam soil helps teach visitors about soil structure and its characteristics.

      It is open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. for hiking, photography and wildlife observation; it is not available for picnicking, fishing or hunting.

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