Kids can ‘track for treasure in London

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The whole family can go “tracking for treasure” on Jan. 19 at the Gwynne Conservation Area, 690 Arbuckle Road, London.

The free afternoon event will start at 1 p.m. at the Gwynne cabin, where participants will see animal pelts and skulls, make track stamps and molds, and eat like a black bear.

“We’ll have insect-shaped crackers, gummy fish, blueberries. Kids will learn that bears don’t go around eating people. It will be a fun, munchy kind of thing,” said Christy Ahnmark, education conservationist for the Madison Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Hot chocolate and cider also will be served.

At 1:30, John Rockenbaugh, wildlife specialist with the Union SWCD, will lead a one-hour hike to track animals found at the Gwynne in winter. Some of the possibilities are deer, skunk, mink, meadow mice, rabbits, muskrats, raccoons and hawks. The hike will feature several “treasure stops.” In the case of severely cold temperatures, the entire program will take place indoors.

“Tracking for Treasure” is the latest installment of “Listening to the Land,” a year-long series of events in central Ohio that celebrates Aldo Leopold’s book, “A Sand County Almanac.”

Born in 1887 and raised in Iowa, Leopold was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer and outdoor enthusiast. Early on, he worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Arizona and New Mexico. He later wrote the first textbook in the field of wildlife management and became the chair of game management at the University of Wisconsin, the first post of its kind at any college in the country.

Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac” is a small volume of essays on humanity’s relationship with nature. On April 21, 1948, a week after the author learned that his book would be published, he died from a heart attack he suffered while fighting a neighbor’s grass fire. A year later, the book was published. In the 60 years since, over two million copies have been sold.

Many groups have held day or weekend events inspired by Leopold’s work. Susan Setterlin, a member of the central Ohio chapter of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, wanted to do more.

With the help of like-minded conservationists, including Ahnmark in Madison County, Setterlin organized nearly 50 events. The kick-off was held on March 4, 2007, at Highbanks MetroPark in Columbus. The finale will be held at the Columbus Zoo on March 15, 2008.

Readings from “A Sand County Almanac” have been incorporated into each event. The goal is to read through the entire book during the course of the Listening To The Land series. At the Gwynne event in Madison County, the selected passages are “January Thaw,” “Land Health,” “The Outlook” and “Foreword.” Copies of the book will be given away at the event.

“It’s real simple reading with ideas about the land and how people are connected to it,” said Ahnmark, whose personal copy of “The Sand County Almanac” runs 300 pages long and less than three-quarters of an inch thick. “I’ve had my copy of the book for a long time.”

In addition to Madison County’s event, four activities remain on the Listening To The Land calendar:

• Feb. 2 at 11 a.m.—Take a walk through the grounds of Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus to the 200-year-old bicentennial oak tree. (614-645-5863 or education@fpconservatory.org)

• Feb. 10 at 10 a.m.—Find out what Ohio’s land was like long ago at the Orton Geological Museum at The Ohio State University in Columbus. (614-292-6896 or gnidovec@geology.ohio-state.edu.)

• Feb. 27 (time to be announced)—Learn about wetlands on an 80-acre nature preserve at New Albany Schools. (614-939-5092 or whresch@aol.com)

• March 15 at 1 p.m.—Celebrate the year with Aldo Leopold in this final event at the Columbus Zoo. Tours of the North American exhibit and live animal visitors are planned.

The highlight will be the “Listening to the Land Art Show.” Admission will be charged; discount coupons are available at any Aldo Leopold event.

For more information about the Jan. 19 “Tracking for Treasure” event in Madison County, call Christy Ahnmark at 740-852-4004.

For more on the Listening To The Land series and how to enter the art show, contact Susan Setterlin at 614-457-8130 or rsetterl@columbus.rr.com.

For more information about Aldo Leopold and the Foundation, go to www.aldoleopold.org.

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