Hilliard students dive into marine biology – News – ThisWeek Community News

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Jellyfish, stingrays, and other marine life that Allie Holland often saw as a child in Myrtle Beach, SC, often inspired her to consider a career in marine biology or zoology.

“I was walking along the beach and seeing (the marine life), and after moving here and missing it so much, I think it sparked my interest even more,” said Holland.

Holland was one of 20 Bradley students in Freshwater Marine Ecosystems who practiced hands-on marine biology skills with staff from the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University on May 9 in a natural pond in Clarence W. Latham Education Park, west of Cosgray Road just north of Scioto Darby Road.

Students in the Freshwater Marine Ecosystems classes at Darby and Davidson High Schools participated in activities at the pond on May 3 and 10, respectively.

It was the first year that students visited Latham Park for such activities, said Hala Zahreddine, managing partner of Hilliard-based Urban Park Development LLC, a company specializing in the design of park-related equipment, development. environmental education programs for children and adults and find funding through grants and public-private partnerships.

Zahreddine said she coordinated the event with help from the Town of Hilliard, Hilliard City Schools and the Township of Norwich.

Butch Seidle, director of utilities for Hilliard, said the city has a $ 7,500 contract with Urban Park Development to seek grants for the city as part of the education park improvement MJC Holdings LLC, the developer of the Square at Latham Park, has undertaken to build in conjunction with Square at Latham Park, a mixed-use development under construction to the west of the park.

“When the plans were approved (for the Square in Latham Park), the developer made a commitment to create an educational park,” Seidle said.

He said the park would become a place for students to study nature and the environment, and that last week’s marine biology excursion would be an annual event supported by the city, district and township.

Zahreddine said she contacted the state of Ohio and then involved the students in efforts to develop and use the 19-acre educational park.

The students used a seine, a weighted net that is dragged to catch fish, often on a shore, and a Secchi disc, an instrument that measures the turbidity or clarity of the water.

A Secchi disc, named after its inventor, Angelo Secchi, is a weighted disc that is lowered into the water until it disappears from view.

Notches on its string indicate the depth to which the disc was lowered and the maximum depth at which it is still visible indicates the turbidity of the water.

Applied to a natural body of water, it measures how “eutrophic” or “oligotrophic,” said Eugene Braig, director of the aquatic ecosystems program at Ohio State.

Water that is eutrophic has dense plant life, like algae, and can be considered “too productive,” resulting in low oxygen levels which can lead to fish death, he said.

Oligotrophic water has few plant nutrients and abundant oxygen, is often found at high altitudes, and has fewer microorganisms, Braig said.

Most urban ponds are eutrophic, he said.

Students also researched aquatic insects, examined how runoff from development can harm natural water bodies, and studied organisms under a microscope.

Braig visited the classrooms of Bradley, Darby and Davidson High Schools before their outings to the pond.

It also gave them perspectives on marine biology as a career.

“It’s a career you can have if you enjoy it while making a difference in the world,” he said. “You can do this for a living.”

Katie Ulring, who teaches two sections of the Freshwater Marine Ecosystems Course at Bradley, said the activity is invaluable to her students considering careers in aquatic ecosystems.

Trisha Van Meter, a senior at Bradley, said she plans to major in marine biology at Ohio State University.

“I’ve always had an interest in marine life,” Van Meter said.

For the rest of the students, the class met a science requirement for graduation but turned out to be interesting nonetheless.

“I thought (a pond) was just water, but it takes a lot of it to keep it healthy,” said Niya Shalash, Bradley senior.

By the time the students return next year, the first improvements to the park should be completed, Seidle said.

Urban Park Development helped secure a $ 40,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to help expand the park’s multi-use recreational trails to adjacent neighborhoods and add signs explaining the park’s natural wildlife and the pond of 4.5 acres, Zahreddine said.

Seidle said the city has set aside around $ 300,000 in its 2019 budget for capital improvement projects and will seek grants of up to $ 175,000 for a shelter and other improvements next year.

On May 14, Hilliard City Council authorized Seidle to submit an application for the NatureWorks grant administered by the ODNR.

The city could receive up to 75 percent of the cost of building the refuge with a patio overlooking the pond and erecting signs describing native plants, according to the legislation.

The project is valued at $ 375,000 and the city’s share would be $ 225,000 if it succeeds in reaching the maximum allowable grant of $ 150,000, according to Clark Rausch, Hilliard’s assistant city engineer.

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