Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trimble Township Forest Offers Educational Opportunities

On a recent early fall morning, Ohio University graduate student Nicole Finnicum placed a tiny sticker on the underside of a Monarch butterfly's hind wing. Rural Action's Joe Brehm caught this male monarch with a swift swoop of a butterfly net at the Trimble Township Community Forest (TTCF) as a group of first year MSES (Master's of Science in Environmental Studies) students looked on. Ms. Finnicum volunteered to help tag this beautiful lepidopteran as part of a project to learn more about their migration southward into Mexico.

The main purpose of these students' journey to the property, however, was to learn more about conservation and education efforts in rural southeast Ohio. The group of students, led by Loraine McCosker, ventured to the TTCF to meet Brehm and Appalachia Ohio Alliance's (AOA) Steve Goodwin for a hike and discussion.

Goodwin and Brehm explained to students the history of the TTCF and the successful partnership between AOA and Rural Action that protected this 1,200 acre patch of forest for the local communities, and also for a land lab for Trimble Local Schools.

The group hiked an oil and gas road into the diverse patch of deciduous forest and riparian meadow, spotting birds, butterflies, and other notable flora and fauna along the way. One notable spot was a rose-breasted grosbeak, likely beginning its migration southward.

The final destination was the land lab's vernal pools, constructed only months ago by Trimble High School students thanks to a project facilitated by the Little Cities of the Forest Collaborative. Much to the delight of Brehm, the MSES students discovered a gray tree frog around the pools, a sure sign that wildlife are already putting them to use.

Brehm spoke to the students about other ongoing and future projects at the land lab, and Goodwin gave a synopsis of his land trust's role in protecting this acreage. Goodwin and Brehm were both glad for the opportunity to explain and discuss this unique partnership and success story in conservation.

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