WILLIAMSTOWN - More than 20 area youth got the chance to study mussel shells, tie knots, learn to read a compass and hike outdoors looking for birds and trees during "Be a Ranger for a Day" Wednesday at the Visitor Center at Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Williamstown.
"Ranger" Matthew McGruder, the refuge's visitor services manager, and "Ranger" Crystal Ambrose, recreational aide, taught the children how to put on a life jacket.
McGruder asked the children why it's important to wear the right size jacket.
Photo by Sharon Bopp
Minerva McKay of Marietta, 6, studies the knot she just tied during the “Be a Ranger for a Day” activity Wednesday at Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Williamstown.
"If you don't, you'll slip out of it," said 8-year-old Landon Fowler of Washington, W.Va.
McGruder started the lesson in compass reading by asking "Which way is north?"
"That way," pointed Minerva McKay of Marietta, 6.
If You Go
What: "Insect Safari."
When: 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Williamstown.
Who: All ages. Parents or guardians must be present.
For information: 304-375-2923, Ext. 117.
Heading outside, the participants used their compass-reading skills to find flags planted around the visitor center, learned about plant species at the refuge and watched for birds along the refuge's Birds and Butterflies Trail.
"I want to find blue jays," said Claudia Antill of Marietta, 6. "My grandma loves blue jays."
According to McGruder, the refuge center offers environmental education to the community to raise awareness of the refuge and what staffers do there.
"Having everybody excited about the refuge is what we're trying to accomplish," he said.
The children were accompanied by moms, dads, guardians and grandparents, who also learned about ranger skills.
"The interest of the parents was really great to see," McGruder noted. "They were asking about knot tying and how to read a compass."
It wasn't the first visit for many.
"We're here several times a year for activities and just to enjoy the facilities," said Mary Lou Moegling, of Marietta, whose granddaughter Claudia Antill of Marietta, 6, attended Wednesday's activity.
The visitor center will host another activity for children called "Insect Safari" at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Attendees will hike around the wildlife refuge to collect and identify insects.
"It's about the different types of bugs and insects that you can find in our area and on the refuge," said McGruder.
This free activity is open to children of all ages. Parents or guardians must be present. In the event of bad weather, alternative indoor activities will be planned.