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Late Bloomers at the Schrader Center

SunflowerphotoThe long awaited blooming of summer’s last flowers is here; the tall and mighty sunflower! All summer long Ms. Robin heard reports from various children from this past spring’s Preschool Days program, “Four Fingers and a Thumb”, where we learned about a plant‘s life cycle, made recycled pots and planted sunflower seeds in class. Reports included how tall their plantings were, “up to here” or “bigger than me”, often coupled with gestures to show height. Then, exciting news came in – they bloomed!

Four-year-old Allison beamed as she handed me a picture of her blooming sunflower when Preschool Days classes resumed last week. She also told me proudly that she now goes to preschool and nature preschool.  Allison has been attending Preschool Days programs at the Schrader Center with her grandmother, aunt or mother since she was just 2-years-old, and before words.

There are still openings in the Fall Preschool Days program, but look for a change in the name this winter.  Starting in January, the Preschool Days program (2- to 4-year-olds with an adult”) will be called “Roots and Shoots”.  “Roots” better reflects the often multi-generational participants (grandparents, grandchildren, parents and caregivers) in the program.  And “Shoots” captures the growth and transition of our smallest nature learners from no words to an understanding and interest in the natural world around them.

The “Budding Naturalists” program for transitional kindergartners without an adult will keep its name. Both programs will retain their high quality, interactive programming and educational outdoor components.  Check out our programs online, or call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 to register. —By Robin Lee, Education Program Coordinator


OI Hosts “LEXICON OF SUSTAINABILITY” Pop Up Art Show at Farm to Table Event

csaGuests at the 3rd Annual Farm to Table Culinary Tasting Event set for Sunday, August 18 at Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center will have an opportunity to view a beautiful and educational photographic exhibit highlighting the language of sustainable food.

The Lexicon of Sustainability Pop Up Art Show includes large format “information art” photo collages and educates, engages and activates people to pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier, safer food system in America.

Designed to educate the fast-growing group of people who want to eat better but aren’t quite sure how, this groundbreaking exhibit illuminates concepts, terms and definitions of sustainable agriculture and is based on a simple premise – people can’t be expected to live more sustainable lives if they don’t understand the most basic terms and principles that define sustainability.

Dr. Vishakha Maskey, an associate professor of management at the Gary E. West College of Business at West Liberty University, is the curator for the August 18 show at the Farm to Table event. She has hosted previous shows in places such as the Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley and the Ohio Valley Farmers’ Market.

The Lexicon of Sustainability Pop-Up Art Show is included with the Farm to Table admission fee.

farm_to_table eatingThe Farm to Table Culinary Tasting Event includes a variety of farm-fresh dishes prepared onsite by some of the area’s top chefs. Guests will enjoy a diverse menu of seasonally fresh produce, lamb, chicken and beef, cooking demonstrations, a farmers’ market, organic wine and live music on the lawn of the Stifel Fine Arts Center.

For more information or to register, visit www.OIonline.com/farmtotable.

Add Some Nature to Your Life this Summer!

It seems that what we at the Schrader Center have known all along is now being proven by a wider group of scientists and researchers…Nature Rocks! It’s true. If you add in some time spent outdoors in nature, you can lessen the amount of stress that you feel and increase cognitive skills and creativity, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Natural Learning Initiative study at North Carolina State University. Richard Louv, the author of “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life in a Virtual Age” and “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder”, describes how it’s time to get back to nature in a recent article for the New York Times online edition. 

trail hikers

Oglebay Institute makes it easy to connect in nature with a myriad of summer camp options for adults and children of all ages. Check out OI’s website, and click on the Camps tab for information on Mountain Nature Camp, Junior Nature Camp and Nature Day Camp. Plus, we have tons of summer activities that put you right out on the trails and up close and personal with Mother Nature. We have guided nature walks, a fossil hunt, campfires, family backpacking and exploration and even astronomy! You can find a complete listing of our summer programs here:  OI_SP_rack_card.

Visit the Schrader Center this summer, and step into the outdoors with your family. We’re just a few minutes up the hill in Oglebay Park!

Schrader Center Junior Naturalists Make an Interesting Discovery!

As Schrader Center Junior Naturalists, this is our fifth weak of volunteering this summer and our first blog post.  Within the last five weeks, we have found a lot of cool discoveries, and we can’t believe it has been this long!  Today, we decided to share the experience we had with a cicada we found while clearing out wood from an archery course.  While moving a log, one of our Junior Naturalists, Amelia, found a strange looking creature lurking in the ground.  After digging it out, and placing it lightly on a glove, she called over our instructor, Erica, who confirmed that it was a cicada!  After snapping a photo, we headed back to our office to find more information.  Using a new thing called the internet (you’ve probably never heard of it), we discovered that it was an “annual cicada”. These are different than the periodical cicadas. Periodical cicadas spend the first 17 years of their lives underground and emerge all at the same time in large swarms.Nymph4-29-07A

We scavenged some insect and wildlife books from around the building, and pulled out our nature journals to take notes.  We gathered tons of interesting facts!  For example, did you know that adult male cicadas only live for about a week?  Imagoes, another word for adult cicadas, look for mates by spending their time in trees and singing. When a male sings, females respond, which in turn triggers mating, and the cycle of life begins. Cicadas make their trademark mechanical buzz with an organ called a tymbal. The tymbal is made up of a thick membrane set in the chamber of the insect’s thorax. As the membrane vibrates, the sound resonates and amplifies, creating the cicada’s song. As you can see, we have a lot of fun, and make tons of new discoveries every day!

See you soon,

The Junior Naturalists

Family Nature Exploration Program Yields “Unusual Find”!

By Robin M. Lee,  MA, Education Coordinator, Schrader Center — Nature Wonder Programs offered through the Schrader Environmental Education Center (SEEC) are designed to foster an interest and knowledge of the regional environment while strengthening the relationships of family members to nature. This summer,  a weekly family hike for the littlest naturalists and their families is being held every Wednesday at 12:30pm. Each week local families and visitors of Oglebay Park take advantage of this opportunity to explore a habitat in the Park with a backpack and staff member of the Schrader Center.

Last week’s group hiked down to the stream and found an unusual creature hunkered down in the muddy creek bank. Identified by its dome shaped carapace (top part of the shell) by two brothers visiting from out-of-state, it was a large box turtle (terrapene) or box tortoise,  land living “turtle”.  Not uncommon in the woodlands of the Eastern United States (and parts of Mexico), the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) can live to be over 50 years old!

What made our box “tortoise” so special was the large size and its location, as it was submerged completely in the mud, no head or feet to be seen, only it’s easily identifiable carapace visible.  Great care was given to dig out the turtle for closer observation as its head and tail were completely under the mud.  Finding which end was the head of the box turtle was important to prevent a possible pinch. Box turtles have a hinge in their plastron (bottom part of their shell) that can close and pinch, like a door, to protect it from natural predators (mammals like minksskunksraccoons, dogs and rodents, and also birds like crows and some snakes which are known to kill box turtles.

Once the turtle’s head was exposed, one of the young nature explorers, 6-year-old Oliver, a visitor to the Park, said, “It’s a boy turtle”! When asked why he thought it was a boy, he stated that the turtle has a red eye color, which he had learned at a nature day camp in his home state.  Oliver was correct, as eye color is one of the indicators of a box turtle’s gender.  When asked if anyone knew how old the turtle might be, everyone gathered around to learn to count its scutes  (scales) on its carapace (top).  We used a magnifying glass and counted 30 or more rings in one scute. While this method is a good indicator for an estimate of age, it is not always accurate to the exact year.

After observing, and naming, our 30-year-old plus turtle “Boxy”, we released him pointing him toward the woods. Box turtles are one of the most “neglected” species of reptiles in the United States.  While seemingly easy to maintain in the warmer months after finding one, box turtle’s nutritional requirements for storing fat to get through hibernation can be very tricky….and if awakened after they hibernate, they can starve to death.  Many box turtles die annually by unintentional neglect in captivity.  You cannot “fake out” a box turtle. They already know daylight is getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler and should be looking for their perfect winter home within the next month. So, a true naturalist, one who explores, observes, records and respects nature, lives by this rule of thumb: “When it doubt, let it out!”

Get your little naturalist out and join us for the LAST HIKE OF THE SEASON this Wednesday, August 22 at 12:30pm at the Schrader Center! Call us at 304-242-6855 for more information.

A.B. Brooks Nature Follower and Friend Visits Schrader Center

We had a wonderful visitor today that tied present-day to our past.  Mr. Edwin R. “Ted” Spears of Wheeling came in to visit the Schrader Center and reminisce about the walks that he participated in with Mr. A.B. Brooks.  Alonzo Beecher Brooks was Oglebay Institute’s original naturalist from 1927 – 1944, and he started many traditions that we sustain today.  The current Astronomy program and Mountain Nature Camp were born from the foresight and efforts of Mr. Brooks, as well as the nature walks that Mr. Spears proudly participated in during the mid-1900’s.

Mr. Brooks had such a big following for his nature walks that the A.B. Brooks Nature Center was built in 1954 to provide shelter to nature program participants. That building stood for nearly 50 years before the Schrader Environmental Education Center was built in 2000. The Schrader Center pays tribute to Mr. Brooks by continuing his commitments through a Thursday evening volunteer-administered Astronomy program at 9:00pm and morning Guided Nature Walks every Tuesday at 10:00am. The Brooks Bird Club was named in recognition of Mr. Brooks, as well as Oglebay’s A.B. Brooks Discovery trails—the same trails that Mr. Brooks used during his notable time as naturalist.

Mr. Spears also knew Henry Stifel Schrader, a founding member of Oglebay Institute who presided over the dedication of the A.B. Brooks Nature Center.  As a tribute to Mr. Schrader’s commitment to both the company and the community, the Schrader Environmental Education Center is named in his honor.  The Schrader Center recognizes both remarkable men and the legacy they left.  Mr. Spears, 92, was accompanied by Mary-Bess Halford, librarian at Bethany College for 16 years. For more information about our Tuesday morning Nature Walks and Astronomy program, please call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855.  – By Sara Fincham, Schrader Center Customer Service Representative.

Jr. Rangers Awarded Grant to Replant Native Species in Oglebay Park

For those of you who haven’t been following the process of our junior ranger grant project, we have been awarded $100 to pull out invasive plant species and replant native ones in the area.  We started replanting trees by digging holes for arrowwood viburnum seeds.  Then we took tree cuttings from box elder, red osier dogwood, and arrowwood viburnum and dipped them in rooting compound and put them in pots.  Today we dug holes to plant our native species of trees in.  While digging we noticed that 4 native species (wingstem, poke weed, White Ash, and box elder) were starting to grow where we cleared privet.

Poke Weed

Phytolacca americana is the scientific name for Pokeweed, which is native to North America. It is a herbaceous perennial plant. Pokeweed can grow up to ten feet in height. This plant is highly toxic to livestock and humans, that’s why deer probably won’t eat it. Pokeweed plants are usually found in edge habitats, meaning they are on the edge of forests where there is lots of sun and disturbed areas. That is why pokeweed is growing in the area we pulled privet.

White Ash

Acer negundo commonly known as Box Elder, is a species of tree that is part of the maple family.  It grows from 10 to 25 meters tall and stays less than 1 meter in diameter.  The Box Elder is fully dioecious, meaning separate male and female trees are required for reproduction.  It grows across the United States and Canada, even as far south as Guatemala.  It is generally a bottom land tree, meaning it grows on heavy wet soils, and requires full sun to partial shade.

White Ash (Fraxinus americana) is native to the Eastern North America from Nova Scotia to Florida, and west to Texas.  It grows up to 25 meters tall and grows very rapidly in hardwood forest gaps.  It readily grows in high light and well drained areas.


The fourth plant we found, Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia), is a very tall perennial herbaceous plant that can reach up to 3 meters tall and has bright yellow flowers.  It prefers pasture, field and roadside habitats with high light, and is found from the East Coast to Texas.  Some people consider it weedy, but we consider any native plant an upgrade from privet.

The discovery of these plants is good news, because it shows that native plants are growing back where we removed an invasive species.  Even though we plan to plant some tree in the area, these native pioneers will help stop privet from re-invading the area before our planted trees get large! ~Jr. Ranger Trail Team