Did you know that the serrated edges on an owl’s feathers allow them to fly silently? Or that coyotes and American badgers work together to chase rodents? Or that American toads change skin color depending on their environment?
Those facts are a sampling of the wealth of knowledge provided by the Ohio Wildlife: A Coloring Field Guide. Published in May 2019, the interactive book is geared toward introducing young learners to field guides. For those 6 or 60, an animal expert or someone who mistakenly refers to garter snakes as “garden snakes,” this guide book contains something for everyone to learn something new, enjoy some leisure time, or just a reason to get outside.
“This book appeals to a wide variety of ages,” said author Amalia Fernand. “It is intended for elementary aged children, but could also be enjoyed by younger children, teenagers, and adults.” Fernand, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and a Master’s degree in Science in Ecological Leadership and Education, has intertwined her passion for education and science, delivering a unique book showcasing Ohio.
It Takes a Village
Flipping through the book’s 107 pages, it is clear that piece undoubtedly required time, comprehensive research, and more than one set of hands.
Fernand published a similar book for the state of Michigan in 2017. After Rob Krain, the Director of the Black Swamp Conservancy, purchased a copy, he contacted Fernand inquiring about an Ohio version. “The balance of education and play in the coloring field guide really struck me,” Krain said. “It is a coloring book with fun activities, but it is also a legitimate outdoor education tool based in science.”
Krain did more than just show interest, however. With his help, along with support from the Black Swamp Conservancy team, the project came to life. Krain wrote the conservation and introduction sections as well as gathering range-map information and proofreading.
Fernand explains, “I spent the winter working with Margo Puffenberger, art director of m. e puff designs, on reformatting the graphic design of the book, working with Anna Bazyl on over 70 illustrations, and with the Black Swamp Conservancy team on new content.”
The book, divided into five categories, is filled with activities and factoids.
“The crafts, games, and activities in the book are all things that I have facilitated with students,” Fernand said. “Some are projects that I have created over years of teaching in the field, and some are ideas that I have modified from colleagues and resources.”
Get Out and Learn
When people think of guide books, they might imagine thick books filled with unfamiliar and snooze-inducing jargon. Ohio Wildlife: A Coloring Field Guide centers around educating readers about Ohio’s wildlife in a fun and accessible way. This book tackles topics in multiple ways thus making them reachable for different learning styles.
Offering games, factoids, craft ideas, experiments and activitiespromotes active learning. “The book encourages children to explore the natural world and appreciate the biology around them,” Krain said. “Kids today are spending less and less time playing in nature, so anything that we can do to encourage outdoor play is important.”
Available for purchase locally at Black Swamp Conservancy, Sauder Village, Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center, and The Wilderness Center, or on Amazon.