New Year, Same Mission

 

The holiday season and new year has brought great fun and fresh ideas to Cuyahoga Valley National Park! We have hosted events, added to our upcoming calendar, and welcomed new Field Instructors.

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

Each December, the Conservancy for CVNP hosts a Festival of Lights at the Environmental Education Center. We invited our guests to share a meal, make crafts, and “travel” around the world as they visited stations celebrating eights different winter holidays and occasions. This year, we celebrated Loi Krathong, Kwanzaa, Dongzhi, Hanukkah, Saturnalia, Christmas, Science of the Solstice, and Holidays in Pop Culture.

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Although Loi Krathong is traditionally celebrated in a warmer climate, we got creative and “floated” our lights out onto a frozen Cattail Pond.

Please join us for our next Festival of Lights and keep an eye out for other fun activities we host throughout the year!

CLOTHING DONATIONS

We want to give a shout out to all of the generous donors from 2016! We had over 50 pairs of coats, gloves, hats and scarves for each of our two campuses at the EEC. Our goal is to ensure that all people have safe and enjoyable access to our national park. These donations will guarantee that every student can be safe and warm in the unpredictable weather of Ohio and still get to experience the outdoors first hand. THANK YOU!

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Just a portion of the clothing generously donated to us to make sure we can keep students safe and warm on the trails!

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Students stay warm and have a blast while learning outside!

WELCOME OUR NEW FIELD INSTRUCTORS

As we enter the new year and our calendar fills up, we welcome three new field instructors to our EEC team. They are excited to help fulfill the goal of educating and engaging students from all across the region in beautiful CVNP!

Lauren Herr

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  • Hometown: Akron, Ohio
  • Focus of study: Nursing
  • Interesting fact: “I ♥ rock climbing and Beyoncé.”

Kelli Kinzig

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  • Hometown: Centerville, OH
  • Focus of study: Early Childhood Education
  • Interesting fact: “When I was little I used to be mistaken for MaryKate and Ashley Olsen.”

Megan Lemmo

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  • Hometown: Brimfield, OH
  • Focus of study: Wildlife Conservation
  • Interesting fact: “I lived in Australia for about 6 months.”

Spring is going to be an exciting time with lots of new developments happening, so be sure to check in to stay up to date!

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FALL-ing for CVNP

Fall has been a busy season here in Cuyahoga Valley National Park! Many awesome groups have come out to celebrate NPS’s Centennial year. Here are just a few to showcase our Autumn!

AKRON PUBLIC SCHOOLS 9TH GRADE EXCURSION

This November, our Akron Public Schools partners came out for their first excursion. Students from Kenmore, East, North, and Buchtel High Schools spent their day exploring the ledges, playing games, and team-building in CVNP.

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Our scavenger hunt had the 9th graders trek The Ledges Trail in CVNP; what an adventure!

We are excited to host them back again in January for a fun filled day of sledding and games.

COVENTRY MIDDLE TREE PLANTING

One of our veteran residential schools, Coventry Middle School, came back to the CVEEC for another week of discovery and learning. In order to help celebrate the 100th birthday of  the National Park Service, the 6th grade students planted over 100 trees down near the Everett Covered Bridge! They made a lasting impact on the park for us to enjoy another 100 years!

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6th graders are listening to Ranger Josh explain how to plant new trees.

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After their hard work, Coventry students are thanked and sworn in as official Junior Rangers of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

GIRL SCOUTS CADETTE WEEKEND

We also hosted our first girl scout weekend of the year! We welcomed over 90 Cadette Scouts from all over Ohio attended; we even had one from Kentucky! We shared a wonderful weekend as they worked on badges for Animal Helpers, Field Day, and Woodworking. The girls made friends, learned new skills, and got to explore their local National Park on a personal level.

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Ranger Margaret congratulating the scouts on becoming official Junior Rangers of CVNP and earning a very special NPS patch.

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The scouts loved speaking to Paw Patrol participants at CVNP and getting to play with some friendly pups like Penny!

We’ve had a lot of visitors and adventures this year, but there is still time for YOU to come out and help us celebrate our 100 years!

 

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Meet the 2016 – 2017 Instructors!

It’s time to meet our new group of Field Instructors! This wonderful crew will be with us through the 2016-2017 school year, engaging students from all over Ohio in the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Without further ado, here they are!

Sami Craneinterns-2016-17-167

  • Hometown: Copley, OH
  • Focus of study: Environmental Studies
  • Interesting fact: “My spirit animal is a bulldog”

Lili Fikterinterns-2016-17-171

  • Hometown: Chagrin Falls, OH
  • Focus of Study: Zoology, Geology and Environmental Studies
  • Interesting fact: “I have a twin brother”

 

Kate Frenzinterns-2016-17-178

  • Hometown: Rockville, MD
  • Focus of Study: History
  • Interesting fact: “I speak French and Arabic”

 

Tom Lacerdainterns-2016-17-161

  • Hometown: Shaker Heights, OH
  • Focus of Study: Biology
  • Interesting fact: “I have worked in the Dominican Republic, the Great Basin, the Upper Peninsula and Southeast Alaska.”

 

Tara Orzechowskiinterns-2016-17-163

  • Hometown: Toledo, OH
  • Focus of Study: Environmental Science
  • Interesting Fact: “I am left handed”

 

Rob Phillipsinterns-2016-17-176

  • Hometown: Cuyahoga Falls, OH
  • Focus of Study: Zoology
  • Interesting Fact: “I have been to South Africa to take care of cheetahs.”

 

Daniel Pinto032

  • Hometown: Brecksville, OH
  • Focus of Study: Ecology and Evolution
  • Interesting Fact: “I’m adopted from Columbia”

 

Margo Roseumimg_3814

  • Hometown: Willoughby Hills, OH
  • Focus of Study: Communications, Marketing and Environmental Studies
  • Interesting Fact: “I’ve been a vegetarian for almost half my life.”

 

Mirka Šárovámirka

  • Hometown: Kosice, Slovakia
  • Focus of Study: Physical Geography
  •  Interesting Fact: “I biked 110 miles in one day from Bratislava to Vienna and back.”

 

Roman Wakedinterns-2016-17-170

  • Hometown: Columbia Station, OH
  • Focus of Study: Geology
  • Interesting Fact: “Hamsters are my favorite animal.”
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Attention All Schools!

GREAT NEWS!

If you attend our residential program, you could save money on your bills. (This is not a car insurance joke!)

The Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center (CVEEC) has received certification for All the Rivers Run: Level 1: and All the Rivers Run: Level 2 for four contact hours each by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD).

Wait, what?

That means the CVEEC is listed on the District’s website as an approved provider for schools wishing to apply for the Stormwater Fee Education Credit. Any schools attending Level 1 or 2 All the Rivers Run residential programs are eligible to apply for the NEORSD Stormwater Fee Education Credit. It is up to you–the school–to ensure you meet the full requirements of the credit and apply directly with NEORSD.

CONGRATULATIONS—4 contact hours could save you 25% on your sewage bill!

Summary:


What you get:

The Stormwater Fee Education Credit is 25% off your monthly bill.
What you need to do:

  • Complete four contact hours of education concentrating on stewardship of our water and natural resources.
  • A quarter of your building’s grade level must complete the contact hours.
  • For example, if a school has 5-8 grades in a building, one entire grade level must complete the four contact hours.
  • Remember, after completion, you need to apply for the education credit directly with NEORSD.

How to earn your contact hours: (Pick one)

1) NEORSD’s Watershed Education Curriculum;

2) the school’s designed and district-approved curriculum; or

3) an informal science institution that has been certified by NEORSD….Like your friendly neighborhood CVEEC : )

 

Hope to see you soon!

 

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Winter Weather Brings Creative Days

During the winter weather we get creative with our lessons–sometimes even bringing the program to school classrooms instead of our usual week of residential programming on our CVNP trails.

This month we’ve done several puppet shows in preschools and kindergartens. As you can see, our puppets are quite amazing to meet. They give us a chance to soften animals that are usually feared. In fact, that’s the name of the program: “Nobody Likes Me.”

 

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Our friend the spider is misunderstood! Our instructors help children appreciate the important role that every animal plays in our ecosystems–even the unpopular ones!

Instructors from the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center start in a quiet circle in a corner of a classroom or cafeteria, and transform that space into a conversation about what makes animals valuable. Is it their beauty? Their cuddliness? Puppet friends interrupt constantly to ask why they weren’t included on this list. By the end of the show, we’ve learned that

-bees are too busy to be bothered, that’s why they sting. If you don’t bother them, then there’s no problem!

-worms are super useful for making soil out of nasty, rotten food

-bats are aiming for the bugs bugging you, not your hair!

-spiders have oodles of legs and eyeballs because they need to hunt fast, and they think humans have too few legs.

After all these animals have gone back to their business, we separate into stations where students comb their fingers through a worm bin, build their own spiders to take home and make crayon rubbings of bats in their caves.

It’s a really fun field trip for the instructors, so call us if you’d like to schedule a “Nobody Likes Me” program for your little learners!

NLM Josh as bat 2

Having our animal guests in your classroom is great fun for young students!

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Special guests support inclusive program

Earlier this December, we had a fabulous week on the trails with Willson Elementary School, from Cleveland. Part of giving students the best opportunities we can is creating a program that is a safe and accessible place for everyone. Prior to their week out at the CVEEC, we learned that Willson is the center for the district’s deaf and hard of hearing program. To help us prepare,  Ranger Pam made time for the instructors to meet with Pastor Joe-who is hearing impaired and works with several of Willson’s deaf students, Ranger James-the first deaf person to work in CVNP, and two ASL interpreters.

Our staff learned Joe’s and James’ story of growing up without a way to fully communicate. We had the chance to ask about do’s and don’ts and were given a great resource, www.thatdeafguy.com, to learn more about deaf culture. We learned that lip reading is really difficult, especially when teachers turn their backs to write on boards, and that interpreters need people to speak slowly and simply in order to best translate. We came to realize how much we rely on tones of voice and explanations in our interactions. Plus, our usual way to get everyone’s attention is a call/response yell.

When the Willson campers and interpreters did arrive, we were excited and ready. We replaced our call/response cue with an all-inclusive visual cue. During dinner everyone played games of slapping hands on the table, and we picked our silliest action songs for clean up. When Ranger James came for lunch, every student had a chance to interview him. We learned about his job, family, and favorite animal. As our time ended, he repeated that friends of deaf students should make a commitment to learn sign language to better communicate, and around the room several students nodded their fists and heads to mean “yes.” We’re definitely on our way at the CVEEC!

Ranger James and Willson

Willson students pose with Ranger James Gehlmann – photo credit: Conservancy

 

 

 

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CVEEC goes Hog-Wild!

Here at the EEC, we strive to deliver mission-based services. Two of our core values are sustainability and conservation of energy. We inspire the kids to become stewards of the environment by showcasing our own commitment to conservation.  One of the ways we do this is at meal time!

Enjoying a meal as a camp community is so important—it builds bonds between the students, many of whom will sit next to someone that is a new friend, or someone they don’t normally play with at school. Teachers have told us that having meals together makes them become “actual human beings” in the eyes of the students, and that it’s very memorable and valuable to get to know the kids outside of the classroom.

At the conclusion of every meal, our instructors weigh the group’s collective food waste—and report it back to the students. This gives the kids something to think about—and also a goal to get to by the end of camp.

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Weighing food waste

In the past, we were fortunate enough to have a high-heat compost company manage our waste. Recently, we discovered that would no longer be an option.

How would we serve as examples of energy conservation if we were throwing away our uneaten, unserved food?

The answer has come from an unlikely source: pigs. Through a partnership with Stone Garden Farm in Richfield, the vast majority of our edible waste is now being put back into the energy cycle by the farm’s hungriest residents.

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Hungry for food waste!

This fall, our instructors got a chance to spend a beautiful, sunny afternoon with the pigs. It was inspiring to meet the pigs–and see firsthand all of the great work, historical preservation and responsible farming that Jim and Laura Fry have committed to at their farm.

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Treating the pigs to some snacks

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We had a great time at the farm!

 

 

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Ollie Goes to Camp!

Ollie the Otter visited the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center with the students from Chagrin Falls. He wanted to share his camp experience with everyone, since every time you purchase a stuffed Ollie at Trail Mix , 40 percent of the proceeds go towards camp scholarships. He had such a great time exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park and wanted to share some of the excerpts from his camp diary with the blog readers.

Ollie inside the Hollow Tree.

Ollie got to go inside the Hollow Tree!

April 7th, 2015

Dear Diary,

As soon as I arrived at camp today, I could tell it would be a great week. The teaching staff welcomed me and the students from Chagrin Falls with enthusiasm, even though it was raining. We got to go hiking on the trails and visited the Hollow Tree. I even went inside! Later tonight we’re going to have a night hike and campfire. I’m a little nervous about hiking in the dark, but they said it will be a lot of fun. Oh, and the food is delicious!

Ollie pond-dipping

Ollie takes a turn using the net to find critters in the pond!

April 8th, 2015

Dear Diary,

More rain today, but that did not stop us from being outside! Today, we got to explore the pond ecosystem at the CVEEC. We found newts, crayfish, and a dragonfly nymph! I had no idea so many things lived in the mud at the bottom of the pond.

Ollie looks at a newt.

Ollie examines one of the Red-Spotted Newts the students found in the pond.

Students identify their findings.

After catching organisms in the pond, students learn to identify them using field guides and dichotomous keys.

Spring is a great time to see lots of creatures since the ponds and ground have finally thawed out. Plus, all the birds have migrated back for nesting season, so the forest is full of life!

April 9th, 2015

Dear Diary,

Today is our last day, but we went for one more hike to say goodbye to all the trails. I’m sad to be leaving, but I have a lot of great memories of the friends I made here at camp. Ranger Phil made us all say an oath to become Junior Rangers, so now I can tell all my friends about the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and how we can protect and preserve it!

Ollie as a junior ranger!

Ollie shows off his Junior Ranger badge with students from Chagrin Falls.

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Hiking in a Winter Wonderland!

Watershed Photo
Students learn about the watershed all year long!

Some of you may be wondering what we do at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center (CVEEC) in the winter. The temperatures have dropped, the ponds have frozen, and there’s snow everywhere. Do we still have students coming out to camp? Yes! We have just as much fun in the winter as any other time of year.

Student in Hollow Tree
The Hollow Tree is a main attraction, no matter the season!

The weather may be chilly, but a snow-covered forest makes a great place to look for animal tracks, scat, and other signs that are harder to spot in the warmer months. The snow adds an extra challenge to games like camouflage, and there’s a special feeling that comes with blazing your own trail where paths haven’t been plowed.

Night hikes are still fun in the winter, especially since it gets darker earlier. The moon reflecting off the ground adds to the serene beauty of the forest after dark. Star-gazing is excellent because there are no leaves on the trees to block the view and cold nights tend to have clearer skies.

Indoor Steam Activity
Even when it’s too cold to look for marcoinvertebrates outside, we can look through a mock steam inside.

Campfires still burn bright but the location changes from outside to the fireplace inside the November Lodge, where students can warm up after a long day!

The outdoors is different in every season, but it still has much to teach us if we are willing to brave the elements and get out there. Students that come to camp in the winter get a unique experience that is just as wonderful as those students who come in the summer. It just goes to show, any season is the best time of year to be at the CVEEC!

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Celebrate with Us: 2014 Festival of Lights

Photo of Lipscomb Barn

Photo by Bob Kulon

It’s that time of year again, when the sun comes up late and goes down early. The winter solstice, the longest night of the year, is a perfect time to celebrate. It is these dark, cold days that inspire the many holiday traditions around the world.

Every year at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center, we celebrate the winter solstice and different cultures from around the world with a Festival of Lights. As you visit our trails and buildings, staff will welcome you into different cultural traditions from around the globe, like Loy Krathong, a Thai festival of floating a decorated basket down river with a wish, or Diwali, a Hindu celebration of lights victory over darkness. Dinner and samples of traditional foods from each holiday are included. You won’t want to miss this amazing event!

Festival of Lights takes place on December 18th and 19th. This year’s event will feature: Chanukah, Jankanu, Loy Krathong, Diwali, Koroksun, the Christmas Tree, the Yule Log, and the Science behind the Solstice. Visit our website or call (330-657-2796) to register. Can’t wait to see you there!

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