Grateful for Shared Missions
The end of another year is rapidly approaching, and here at TWC this is a time to look back at all we have been able to achieve. We are once again humbled, as we are each year, by the many volunteers and donors who have stepped forward to lend a hand and contribute generously to help make a difference here in our community. This year, however, we would also like to express our gratitude for the colleagues and collaborators who we have the pleasure of working with throughout the year. Through our partnerships with other area organizations who share our vision, we are able to amplify our own impact and enrich a larger portion of our region.
The Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) Program is our state’s coordinated effort to provide quality and consistent training and volunteer opportunities for Ohioans interested in learning about our natural world. The OCVN program is overseen by The Ohio State University Extension, supporting nearly twenty chapters administered by various park districts and nature centers that have collectively trained thousands of volunteer naturalists throughout the state.
The Wilderness Center established itself as one of those OCVN chapters in 2007, and is now considered one of the largest and most successful in the state. In that time TWC has trained more than 300 naturalists who are applying what they learn through service to local parks, museums, nature centers, and arboretums. The program increases knowledge and field experience for active or aspiring teachers and docents, while also incorporating necessary skills which can be applied toward conservation efforts such as habitat improvements, invasive species control, and wildlife monitoring.
“Partnering with the great folks at OSU Extension and the Ohio Division of Wildlife allows us to add depth and breadth to our volunteer training.” says Senior Naturalist Carrie Elvey, who organizes the TWC chapter and facilitates the training each year. “Through the connections we’ve made with those organizations, TWC staff have had opportunities for professional development and information and resources sharing we would not have had otherwise.’
In 2009, TWC joined with numerous government agencies, universities, research centers and conservation organizations who had banded together to form the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity (LEAP).
LEAP partners are protecting natural communities within an extensive network of public and private lands throughout northeastern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania, and western New York. These lands represent a variety of habitats, featuring abundant diversity of plant and animal life — a representation of the remarkable ecoregion in which we live.
LEAP is dedicated to the identification, protection and restoration of biodiversity in our region and to the increased public awareness of biodiversity. The consortium strives to initiate research, share technical information, and conduct public education and outreach efforts.
“This is a fantastic collaboration of Ohio’s leading experts in the field of ecological sciences in which we share our ideas, knowledge and strategies,” says Conservation Manager Gary Popotnik. “Through our collaboration with LEAP partners, we are able to bring new resources and stewardship tactics to the management of TWC’s beautiful and diverse lands.”
By working together toward common goals, we improve our effectiveness and ability to successfully reach larger audiences. These collaboration efforts make northeastern Ohio a better place to live.