Aubree Forrer runs a one-woman show at the Campbell County Environmental Education Center
. From maintaining taxidermy displays, fish tanks, birding areas and trails, to coordinating and leading free activities to engage the public and educate them about the environment, she does it all.
Forrer started working at the Center about two years ago, and ever since, she’s kept busy by immersing herself in nature and sharing her love of the outdoors and all of the living things that inhabit it with others.
In the past few weeks, she’s led night hikes
and activities where people have had the opportunity to build birdhouses and bird feeders.
“Little kids and adults both enjoy it,” Forrer says.
While leading night hikes, Forrer says she uses experiments and hands-on activities to engage children and get them excited about nature.
“I do one activity where I blow up balloons, and you have to guess the color of it, and most times, you get the color wrong,” she says. “I shine a light in it, and that teaches you about rod cells and cone cells in your eyes and how it’s different from humans to nocturnal animals, and you see that the color of your prey—like an owl trying to capture a mouse—isn’t as important as seeing the shape or shadows of that mouse.”
Then participants sit in a group and actually watch the owls in action. Forrer says owls are just one of the many animals in the area. Those involved in the hiking program get to see bats, badgers and possums, among other wild animals.
One of Forrer’s favorite activities, and perhaps one of the most popular at the Center, is coming up in March, when people come together to make a nesting wreath for birds. At this event, Forrer provides the public with twigs, wheat, feathers, fur and other materials that they can piece together, which birds can later pick apart, as they gather supplies for a nest.
“So if you put it by your house or on the side of it, you can watch the birds gather that material from your wreath,” Forrer says. “It’s a lot of fun because you can use your own creativity in terms of making it as colorful as you want and decorating it.”
While Forrer prepares for events, she also puts together educational supplies so she can provide people with a PowerPoint, for example, so they can take it home and see pictures of birds in the area and know how to identify them as they gather material from the nesting wreaths. Forrer says activities like this are nice—especially for the kids who live in the city who don’t have as much involvement with nature.
“A lot of kids in the city areas that don’t really get to go outside and be in the woods, they can come out here and see things they normally don’t get to see, and they can ask questions—normally they’re always full of them,” says Forrer. “Sometimes it sparks their interest and they want to come out here all the time, every other weekend or so, and their parents are making the trip out here to just take a walk outside or come in our building and look at our different animals and our fish tanks.”
Forrer says she’s fallen in love with teaching kids about nature and that she's living her dream job. Though she has quite the responsibility, as she’s the only employee at the Center, she loves every minute of it and couldn’t be happier to be achieving her mission.
“My ultimate goal is to educate the public, especially kids, about what the environment has to offer and how they can help preserve it, help it and use some of the things that natures provides us with to learn from.”
• Like and share the Center's page on Facebook
to keep up with events and fun facts about nature.
• Sign up for Shape Up and Go Green!, an event focused on physical fitness and environmental awareness for adults. Sessions will take place Monday mornings beginning in April. Call 869-572-2600 to register.
• Volunteer to help Aubree Forrer
maintain the Center's trails and bird feeders. Contact her if you're interested in helping.
By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.