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Farewell, Flo!


If you have visited Heartland’s Nature Center in the past couple of years, you may have noticed our American Alligator, Flo. As one of our animal ambassadors, she has played a key role at fostering respect and appreciation for the amazing creatures sharing our planet. Flo was a favorite among students and they enjoyed the unique opportunity to pet such an interesting creature. While we enjoyed having Flo live in our nature center, we unfortunately have relocated her due to changing laws in Ohio. About two weeks ago, one of our staff members drove Flo 235 miles to the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary in Michigan. Flo adapted immediately to her new home and is doing well. She will continue to be used for educational purposes and represent her species and the conservation concerns of the Everglades. While we will miss having her at Heartland, we know that she will be well taken care of and a valuable addition to the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary. Farewell, Flo.

The following picture shows one of the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary staff members releasing Flo into her new habitat



By |2016-10-13T15:26:54+00:00October 3rd, 2014|Camp Highlights|1 Comment

Nature Notes Main Articles 2013

The following are the archived main articles from the 2013 issues Heartland Outdoor School’s  newsletter, Nature Notes:

January 2013

Student Accomplishments at Camp

The last week of November ended a fantastic fall season for Heartland Outdoor School. This fall, 25 schools visited us bringing around 3900 students.  These students made countless discoveries and lasting memories. They developed team building skills, stretched their personal limits and encouraged success in their classmates. Fears were conquered in Reptiles and Amphibians class as students afraid of snakes were willing to pet and even hold some of our snakes in the nature center. When asked if the encounter made them less afraid, the majority of students reported that these creatures were not as scary as they had originally thought. In the Arthropod class, students found over thirty different types of insects and arachnids, including a praying mantis egg sack. Some students were even brave enough to hold a banded garden spider that was about the size of a quarter.  In team challenge, many groups learned how to overcome differences to achieve their goals as a team. During archery, we had a large number of students that hit a bull’s-eye.  At the creek, students found a crawdad as big as a lobster. They also found a rock covered in salamander eggs and students were even able to observe the young amphibians moving around in the eggs.  On an extreme nature hike, students had the opportunity to explore off the trail and discover everything the woods had in store. All this is just scratching the surface of all the amazing accomplishments and discoveries made by students last year.

The Heartland staff are busy this winter working on improvements to make next season even better. We know it will be excellent and look forward to seeing what amazing discoveries the New Year will bring!


March 2013

Heartland’s New Property

There are great things happening at Heartland! We have acquired some new property in the past year that will allow us to expand our hiking trails and wild areas for our guests to explore. The property also includes a scenic meandering stream called Bunker Run. It is a small tributary that drains into Alum Creek. The stream zigzags through the landscape and is filled with beautiful glacial boulders that create excellent habitat for its many inhabitants.

Some of the wildlife you may see in this area could include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, fox, coyote, many songbird species, and raptors like owls or hawks. The stream is filled with several different species of minnow as well as a few species of darter, a bottom-dwelling fish that loves fast-moving water. Darters are one of Ohio’s most beautiful families of fish. Some people even call them “The jewels of Ohio’s streams.” This is due to the striking colors that they display during the mating season.

The new property encompasses 66 acres of forested area that will provide opportunities for relaxation, hiking, and bird watching. The next time you are at Heartland be sure to head to the north side of the property and explore the forest and stream. You never know what you will discover!


May 2013

Food For Thought

Here at heartland, we have made an effort to be more conscious of how much trash we create at mealtimes. We have been encouraging the students to consider the amounts of food waste they are creating as well. Why should we care about how much food we waste? A study in 2009 calculated that Americans waste about 40% of the total food available1. That equals to about 200 pounds of wasted food per person every year2. This would be enough food to feed one person for about a month and a half! That’s a lot of waste!

To help with this, we initiated a program called Food For Thought. At the end of the meal time before we begin clean up, we show the students a short video that teaches them a fact about the worldwide food waste epidemic. We also offer tips to the students about things that they can do at home and school to help fight against this problem. By raising awareness, we hope to encourage the students to be instigators of change in their community.

For more information about the waste we make and ways to reduce the amount we put in a landfill, visit the following site: This website has an interactive activity called “My Garbology” which allows students to learn about recycling, reusing, and composting.


  1. Hall, K. D., Guo, J., Dore, M., & Chow, C. C. (2009). The progressive increase of food waste in America and its environmental impact. PLoS One, 4(11), e7940. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007940
  2. Walsh, D. (2011, Sept 15). A war against food waste. The New York Times. Retrieved from
By |2018-03-13T17:26:57+00:00October 18th, 2013|Camp Highlights|0 Comments

Nature Notes Main Articles 2012

The following are the archived main articles from the 2012 issues Heartland Outdoor School’s  newsletter, Nature Notes:

January 2012

New Arrival at the Nature Center

Our nature center has just obtained a new animal that our students can learn about and enjoy, a savannah monitor lizard named “Ramses.”  These lizards are found in central to northern Africa and are believed to have originated near Egypt.  The name “monitor” is derived from folklore about the Nile monitor, which locals believed “monitored” the river for approaching crocodiles (it is more likely they were feeding on the croc eggs). The monitor’s primary diet in the wild is insects. They can also be very voracious eaters.  A healthy monitor is active, inquisitive, highly intelligent, and very clever at escaping its enclosure as a means to pass the time.  Despite the frequent sale of monitor lizards they are not recommend for pets, as misinformation on their proper care has resulted in an average survival rate of one year in the pet trade.  Within the specialized care of our nature center, however, Ramses can be expected to live anywhere from 12-20 years and grow to a length of 3-4 feet.  He will be joining a host of other creatures within our nature center to be studied and enjoyed by countless school students for many years to come.


April 2012

New Classes for Grades K-2

Wow, this winter is just flying by! Our program staff members at Heartland have been working hard writing some new curriculum during our off season. The curriculum focus this winter has been writing classes for our younger students in kindergarten through second grade. We have some really exciting classes to share this year!

Whether it’s learning about mammals, getting wet stompin’ through the creek, looking under logs, or quietly listening for a creature in the woods, our new classes offer a variety of topics for the younger generation. In Wild Ohio, our mammals class, you’ll get to see and touch real animal skins and then get to hold some real live mammals! Creek Critters, our aquatics class, will take you down to Alum Creek to discover all of the wonderful creatures living in our stream. You could find a beautiful Rainbow Darter or elusive Water Scorpion. Don’t worry, it’s not a real scorpion, but it can sting you if you aren’t careful! We also have a new class called Sounds of Nature. You’ll get to sing songs about nature and listen quietly to hear what’s around you. You never know, you may just hear a coyote in the distance or the beautiful song of a tree frog calling out to its friends.

Our new set of classes will help to instill a love for nature in the younger students. Be sure to request a copy of the curriculum guide if you wish to see a list of the new classes. We hope to see you at Heartland soon. Have a great Spring!


May 2012

Prairie Additions

When driving into the property of Heartland Conference Retreat Center, you will find yourself surrounded by a beautiful prairie habitat. In the fall of 2010, this prairie area, along with a wetland area centered in the prairie, was created and is now home to a variety of plants and wildlife. During the creation of this habitat, bird houses and bat boxes were added to attract wildlife to the area. This past winter, we erected an additional 12 new bluebird boxes in the prairie habitat with the hopes of seeing an increase in the already diverse bird populations at Heartland. While these boxes are specifically designed with bluebirds in mind, other species such as chickadees and swallows utilize these nesting areas, so keep an eye out for many types of birds around the nest boxes. In addition to the 12 bluebird boxes that were already set up, we hope to add nest boxes for owls, kestrels, and wood ducks, along with more bluebird boxes.

To aid in viewing this diverse wildlife population, we have built a Prairie Tower overlooking the wetland, prairie, and surrounding woodlands. This tower is eight feet off the ground with a platform size of 15 by 15 feet. This tower is a perfect spot for anyone hoping to observe some of our magnificent wildlife at Heartland. You may get the opportunity to see swallows flying over the prairie eating emergent insects from the scrape. Or perhaps you will see adult birds going in and out of the nest boxes to feed their chicks. You may hear a gentle breeze rolling over the tall grasses or a symphony of crickets and frogs rising up from below you. There is so much to be observed from the Prairie Tower. Come on up and see what you can discover!


September 2012

Drought Tolerant Plants

Wow, it’s been hot and dry this summer! If you’re like me, you may have noticed that some of the plants don’t look as good this year. They’re not growing as tall, but they still have some beautiful flowers on them! Many of the wildflowers native to Ohio are tolerant of drought conditions. Native means that the flowers were already here when America was colonized. This year has been an unusual year because we don’t often have droughts in Ohio. We typically get one inch of rain each week. When we have consistent rain, the flowers grow tall and are covered with blooms. Most of the wildflowers are found in open prairies, areas dominated by flowers and grasses. You won’t find very many trees growing on these sites! If the sites aren’t mowed or burned every 5-10 years, woody vegetation will begin to grow and take over.

Wildflower gardens can be a very fun way to invite nature to your home. They are easy to design and care for as well. Some drought-tolerant wildflowers native to Ohio include: Purple Coneflower, Black-Eyed Susan, Bee Balm, Blazingstar, Goldenrod, and New England Aster. This group of plants will provide color and flowers in your wildflower garden from late spring through fall. Now you can go out and plant a wonderful garden full of beautiful wildflowers and enjoy all the birds and butterflies that will be attracteded to your back yard!


October 2012

New for Fall 2012!

Coming to Heartland this fall are two new and exciting classes for our students: Mad Scientist and CSI.

Mad Scientist uses exciting and spectacular experiments to explore the scientific method.  The students will be presented with a fun science question, encouraged to create a hypothesis, and then put their theories to the test in a fun and memorable experiences of the laws of physics.

CSI gives the students the chance to become investigators of animal behavior.  The students will get to go to a “crime scene” with all sorts of animal sign which they will then use as clues to decipher what went on there.  This is an innovative way to teach students to hone their observation skills and their appreciation for the evidences of animals all around us.

These new and exciting offerings from Heartland outdoor school will provide even more opportunities for your students to learn in a fun and engaging environment.  Remember to ask about these and many other classes as you plan your visit to Heartland.


November 2012

Heartland’s Winter Curriculum

In the Midwest, we are blessed by living in an area that experiences a changing of the seasons. Each season has different characteristics and activities that can be experienced at no other time of year. In the fall, people can enjoy the changing leaves and eat pumpkin pie. Spring offers beautiful flowers and new life. Summer has sunshine and swimming pools. Finally, winter has Heartlands’ new Winter Curriculum! During the winter kids will be able to encounter the great outdoors on a whole new level, from our aviator’s class to exploring various ecosystems, kids will be able to see animals more easily and learn how and why plants and animals change with the coming of each new season. Additionally, kids will have the opportunity to experience our new afternoon activities and evening programs including: winter olympics, broom ball, discovery hikes, sledding, snow forts, and much more.  We are also offering 10% off of our normal rates for schools signing up between January 15th and March 15th. Come discover the unique opportunities offered by Heartland’s winter curriculum!

For more information please feel free to contact us at:

Phone: 740.747.0220 ext. 107


By |2018-03-13T17:27:08+00:00October 17th, 2013|Camp Highlights|0 Comments

Nature Notes Main Articles 2011

The following are the archived main articles from the 2011 issues Heartland Outdoor School’s  newsletter, Nature Notes:

February 2011

Class Updates

This spring many of our classes are undergoing exciting changes to create a greater experience for our students.  Two of our classes which are being given a makeover are Geology and Native American.

This spring our geology class has moved outside.  Students will get a chance to hike the Shale Ridge Trail to view some of the unique cliffs and ravines of Heartland.  The geological landscape of Heartland includes many amazing features such as: glacial erosion, exposed bedrock, iron oxides draining through the shale layers, and the spectacular effects of geology on the natural landscapes.  The students will get a chance to see how the effects of erosion alter the landscape