Nature Education Providers in Ohio
Audubon Ohio is developing the state’s first urban Audubon Nature Center at the Whittier Peninsula site, which has been designated an Important Bird Area of critical habitat. The most exciting element in the Audubon Center project is the opportunity to build within the downtown community. We will empower urban youth to enjoy and protect the nature in their own backyard instead of busing children to nature somewhere in the suburbs or country. Rather than reinforcing the destructive message that everything worthwhile is located outside their own community, we will instead ensure an experience that will return a long-lasting positive impact for the urban community. We will exploit the power of nature to engage area residents in revitalizing their community.
Audubon Ohio, the City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, and the Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District are collaborating on this major “green” project to develop the Whittier Peninsula of the Scioto River into an urban greenspace anchored by an Audubon Center.
When the redevelopment of the Whittier Peninsula is completed, the site will showcase the resilience of nature and the power of intelligent, conservation-minded development and design. It will demonstrate the possibility of revisiting and mitigating the effects of past development decisions made under different priorities. It will serve as a model of what cooperation and civic determination can do to revitalize a community and restore habitat.
While televised nature programs have created an enthusiastic audience of armchair conservationists, many such viewers are left with the impression that all conservation action takes place in rainforests, savannahs, or deserts far from Ohio. Visitors to the Audubon Center or IBA at the Whittier Peninsula will learn, however, that local natural areas are beautiful, complex, and worthy of conservation. While the Whittier Peninsula is at present known chiefly to birders and fishermen, public awareness of the upcoming project is gradually raising the area’s profile as an easily accessed area with a rich variety of wildlife. An impressive 212 bird species have been recorded at the Greenlawn Dam Important Bird Area, of which the Whittier Peninsula is part.
The Whittier Peninsula is an oasis for urban humans as well as for migrating birds. Through the establishment of an Audubon Center at the Whittier Peninsula, we envision providing urban nature programs and learning opportunities within walking or biking distance of children and families living in the city. City residents will be able to enjoy these recreational and educational opportunities close to home. While offering nature education and greenspace experiences for some of the city’s traditionally underserved neighborhoods, the Columbus Audubon Center would protect critical wildlife habitat for generations to come.