By Cody Willoughby
UNION TOWNSHIP — Miami County residents warmly celebrated the arrival of winter during Brukner Nature Center’s annual Winter Solstice event on Thursday, Dec. 21.
The event was held in Brukner’s own Heidleberg Auditorium, and its theme was “Wildlife & Wild Places”. Admission was $5 for BNC Members, and $10 for the general public. Door opened to guests at 7 p.m.
Refreshments were provided, as well as the opportunity to enter to win a collection of ornaments created by the center’s own nature carver’s group. Raffle entries were $1 each.
“We like to do something to celebrate each season, and we mark winter solstice by holding this event with a guest speaker and the opening of an art exhibit,” said executive director Deb Oexmann. “Tonight, we’re featuring Erin Hazelton, who is with Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.”
“My presentation boils down everything I’ve done in my first six months,” said Hazelton, who is a wildlife administrator with ODNR. “We do everything from endangered species research to wildlife habitat management. One of my other primary roles is a liaison for wind energy. Whenever wind energy companies want to put in new installations in Ohio, there’s a process they have to go through, and part of that is a review through the Division of Wildlife to try and minimize impacts to wildlife species. This is a great job to have, and I’m really lucky.”
Along with Hazelton’s presentation, entries from Brukner’s recent photo contest was on display, which featured a variety of images capturing creatures in their natural habitats. The exhibit featured the work of both youth and adult participants, and will be on display through Sunday, Mar. 18.
Representing the center’s wildlife ambassadors during the event was a brown bat, presented by the center’s volunteers.
“Bats are facing a really rapid decline because of white-nose syndrome,” said wildlife intern Laura Cain. “We’re trying to highlight the fact that bats are an important species that we need to protect. They’re extremely good managers of the insect population, so it’s important to help fight the spread of white-nose however we can.”
All admission proceeds and photograph sales will support Brukner’s wildlife research projects throughout 2018.
To learn more, visit www.bruknernaturecenter.com.