Mid-Ohio Valley youth get wildlife experience

Photo by Janelle Patterson Rachel Kreiger, left, holds a mussel shell for Eva Easter to touch while held by her mother Stacy at the Ohio River Islands Wildlife Refuge Wednesday.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Starting their safari summer just like adult scientists, six children constructed their nature journals before venturing out in a light drizzle Wednesday.

“Real scientists take really good notes, and rubbings and always write down what the weather was that day,” explained Rachel Kreiger, 23, originally from Virginia but interning at the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Williamstown this summer.

Kreiger led the first of 11 safari adventures at the refuge Wednesday with children ranging in age from 3 years old to 11.

“This program will run all summer, and if they come back they can keep writing what they’re learning and seeing each time we go outside,” said Kreiger of the free hour-long educational experience. “For younger kids, it’s just fun to get outside and explore and spot some animals, but with the journals, hopefully, the older ones are also learning too and practicing observing and recalling what they learn.”

Margie Morris, of Vienna, said she was excited to bring four of her grandchildren to the safari Wednesday, despite the drizzle outside.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Margie Morris helps her grandson Abe, 4, pick stamps out for his nature journal at the Ohio River Islands Wildlife Refuge Wednesday.

“They came here last summer for some of the events, it’s something creative to do that gets them outside and in nature,” said Morris. “I have been thinking of things for weeks for us to do this summer; canvas and painting, science projects, the library–they’re on screens all the time in school, they need a break.”

Will Jenkins, Morris’ oldest grandchild present, quickly took to looking out for wildlife and tasting the edible plants.

“They don’t taste that different from a blackberry,” he noted as the group stepped outside and picked a few ripe mulberries.

“Mommy, I want two black ones,” called out Eva Easter, 3, of Williamstown, after watching Jenkins grab a few more off the tree at the refuge.

Eva’s mother, Stacy Easter, made sure her son and daughter were prepared in rainboots for the short hike around the refuge’s land off of 3982 Waverly-Williamstown Road.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Will Jenkins, 11, looks out for birds at the Ohio River Islands Wildlife Refuge Wednesday.

“It’s still nice out,” Stacy smiled, just grabbing an umbrella as a light drizzle started.

The group sought out butterfly eggs beneath milkweed leaves, and Quincy Easter, 5, held out to see an animal or two.

“It’s an easy-going educational experience,” said Kreiger. “It’s a chance to get out and explore what we see of animals and plants.”

For more information on upcoming events like the safari adventure, visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/ohio–river–islands/ or the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge on Facebook.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Attendees of the safari adventure at the Ohio River Islands Wildlife Refuge Wednesday stop to taste mulberries while on a hike.