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Vernal pools are fascinating places that teem with life, albeit for only a short season. Salamanders, fairy shrimp, and frogs galore are but a few of the animals produced in these woodland wetland factories.

If you are an educator, such as a teacher, professional naturalist, or Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist, you may be interested in Vernalpalooza. It's a specialized workshop that delves into the mysteries of vernal pools, via illustrated lectures and field trips to some extremely cool and normally off-limits habitats.

The venue is the beautiful Shawnee State Park Lodge in southern Ohio's Shawnee State Forest, and the dates are February 29 - March 2. The salamanders and other amphibians should be out in force!

There are only a few spots left - they've limited attendance to 40 people - and the deadline for registration is this Friday. Sorry for not getting this out there earlier, but I just learned today that a few more people can be accomodated and I know some vernal pool enthusiasts read this blog. To hold your spot, give Jen Dennison of the Ohio Division of Wildlife a call at 614-265-6316 or email her at:

CLICK HERE for the registration form.

Glance below for the Vernalpalooza agenda:

Wed – Feb 29

1:00pm Registration, check-in

1:15pm Welcome – Division of Wildlife Chief

1:30pm Keynote – Ecological Diversity of Southern Ohio—Martin McAllister, Shawnee State Park

2:30pm What are Vernal Pools?—Heidi Devine, Kipp Brown--Ohio Division of Wildlife

3:30pm Break

3:45pm Outdoor activities –Jenny Richards, Tom Biebighauser take a walk to a local vernal pool

6:00pm Dinner

7:00pm Wildlife considerations, permits needed, and the use of animals in the classroom – Ron Ollis, ODNR--Division of Wildlife – Using animals to supplement environmental lessons can be one of the most engaging tools an educator can use. However, there are regulations that need to be considered before bringing animals into your classrooms or programs. Learn about the process and requirements for Scientific Collecting and Education Permits issued by the Division of Wildlife for the use and possession of native wildlife for education. Law enforcement requirements such as PIT tagging and other issues will be discussed along with other permit concerns.

Thurs – March 1

7:00am Breakfast

8:00am Building Vernal Pools—Tom Biebighauser

9:30am Break

9:45am Building Vernal Pools cont.

11:30am Lunch

12:30pm Field Studies— John Howard-GE, Heidi Devine, Kipp Brown, travel to GE Testing Grounds to explore both natural and built vernal pools.

6:00pm Dinner

7:00pm Tips on grant writing and funding sources – Carolyn Watkins, Ohio EPA, Office of Environmental Education

Friday – March 2

7:00am Breakfast

8:00am Vernal Pool Flora and Fauna—Jim McCormac, Ohio Division of Wildlife

9:00am Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning—Cathy Holmes, ODE

9:45am Break

10:30am Running Amok in the Muck: Surveying Reptile and Amphibians with Students--Carrie Elvey, The Wilderness Center

Reptiles and Amphibians are among the most charismatic ambassadors for vernal pools and serve as important indicators of wetland health. They can be a valuable tool for creating memorable experiences as well as a catalyst for teaching field skills and conservation ethics. Learn the differences between survey and monitoring programs, and the protocols for conducting each. Also discussed will be appropriate handling techniques and amphibian disease prevention.

11:15am Taking Students to Vernal Pools-A Panel Discussion on Ethics

12:00pm Closure—Certificates, Evaluations, Box Lunch for the Road


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