Nature & Wildlife Center Receives $12.4K

Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center (LEINWC), located on Put-in-Bay–South Bass Island, has benefited the past two years from Ottawa County Community Foundation (OCCF) grants totaling $12,475. The grant monies further camp accessibility and geology education.

“We are very grateful for the support Ottawa County Community Foundation provides,” said LEINWC Director Renée Fultz. “We are incredibly fortunate to receive OCCF grants that have make a huge impact.”

Young nature campers learn to use binoculars.

In 2022, LEINWC received $8,500 for its Nature Camp program, which it tries to keep as affordable as possible for families from all backgrounds. From Middle Bass and Put-in-Bay, the organization welcomed approximately 125 campers—most of whom live on the islands or have area family or friends. The water theme allows campers to learn about water cycles, water quality, invasive plants, plastic pollution and how these factors impact the health of the lake and drinking water.

Sidewalk chalk-art expresses one camper’s love for Nature Camp.

LEINWC also resumes camp-outs for the older campers—Middle Bass and South Bass (ages 9-10) and North Bass (ages 11-14)—after two years without, due to the pandemic. Thanks, in part, to the OCCF grant, LEINWC was able to hire camp employees at an adequate camper-to-staff ratio and to fund kayaking and Stone Lab programs, including freshwater studies aboard the research vessel Bio Lab.

“We love being able to provide that important connection to nature in a safe and fun environment,” said Fultz, noting that, for the younger group, this is often a child’s first camping experience. “The kids had a blast. Nature Camp was a wonderful success, this year.”

Visitors view the new video illustrating how the Bass Islands were formed.

“Through hands-on learning, classes, and interactive displays, the dynamic staff of the Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center foster a sense of wonderment and fun for all ages,” said OCCF Trustee Julene Market, who lives on Put-in-Bay and actively promotes nature and eco-tourism events on the islands. “I am so glad OCCF has chosen to support the Wildlife Center’s worthwhile mission.”

In 2021, LEINWC also received $3,975 to develop an animated video of how the Lake Erie Islands were formed. The video, created with extensive input from leading geologist Dr. Ed Herdendorf, “adds a significant educational aspect to the geology display and improves our ability to educate visitors on the unique geological history of the islands,” said Fultz.

LEINWC records 6,000 visitors this year, so far; many take the time to watch the 4-minute animation.  This leads to conversations about islands and Lake Erie formation over the past 14,000 years. For more information about LEINWC, visit lakeerieislandswildlife.com.

Established in 1999, OCCF provides a steady support system for dozens of nonprofit community organizations across Ottawa County. OCCF receives contributions from individuals, families, businesses and other entities wishing to help their community neighbors. It is an extension of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation and has approximately $11 million in assets.  More than 100 locally-grown funds benefit the fields of education, health and social services, economic development, natural resources and the arts. OCCF has distributed more than $6 million in Ottawa County community grants and scholarships since its inception.

OCCF donors may establish named funds to aid a specific organization or program, provide student scholarships, or create unrestricted funds used for annual grants benefiting local nonprofit organizations like LEINWC. For information, call 419-635-7750, email ottawaccf “at” gmail.com or visit ottawaccf.org.