“We are learning a little bit about everything. We hiked around and looked at some of the native and invasive species. This is a neat way to see that and to get out of the classroom. We also enjoyed the fossils,” said Lee.
One invasive species the club may have learned about is the Emerald Ash Borer. Dressed as an Emerald Ash Borer with the hopes of spreading awareness, volunteer Virgil Hertling explained that the exotic beetle lives in cut wood that can easily be transferred throughout the state in firewood. Because of the potential to wipe out entire populations of trees, there are strict regulations on transporting firewood to Indiana campgrounds and bringing outside firewood to a campground is strongly discouraged.
“If people move firewood, they [the Emerald Ash Borer] is moved, and they are bringing them to an area. Several people have already said they have lost trees because of it,” said Hertling.
Throughout the day, the Falls of the Ohio hosted several presentations, including a raptor program presented by Zach Walker of the Hardy Lake Raptor Rehabilitation Center. During the raptor program, participants saw several birds of prey in person. They also learned that the peregrine falcon and barn owl are endangered in Indiana.
“The barn owls are very endangered with less than twenty nests in Indiana,” said Walker.
The Hardy Lake Raptor Rehabilitation Center is operated on donations, and receives almost 100 injured birds each year. Currently, the center has a 65 percent release rate.
Kelley Morgan, Interpretive Manager at the Falls of the Ohio and Charlestown State Park was also pleased with the event, and had a tremendous amount of fun.
“It was a successful day, and based on weather and a lot of the other things going on, I felt it was successful,” said Morgan.
Morgan was equally pleased with such community partners as Jamey Aebersold, the Ohio Vally Greenway and Division of Fish and Wildlife for making the event possible. This year, the Louisville Zoo also participated by sharing information about native wildlife.