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The Naturalist on Duty program takes place at the Black Fork Wetlands.

ASHLAND – The second event in Ashland University’s Environmental Studies Center’s “Naturalist on Duty” series will be held Saturday, July 20, at the AU Black Fork Wetlands, 2628 Ashland Road. This event will feature the topic, “Dragonflies and Damselflies.”

The series is being held on one Saturday morning each month through the summer and fall, ending on Oct. 5. All events are free and open to the public.

“This ‘Naturalist on Duty’ series provides all with an opportunity to connect with nature in our own backyard and these informal, come-when-you-can style programs are short and flexible,” said Dr. Patricia Saunders, AU associate professor of biology and director of the environmental science program. “New this year, we are doing short programs each hour that focus on basic features of the organisms. These are helpful for identifying groups and common local examples. We will also have an art table for kids of all ages.”

The remaining dates and topics for the series are:

-- July 20 -- dragonflies & damselflies

-- Aug. 10 -- prairie flowers & pollinators

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-- Sept. 7 -- birds and bird banding

-- Oct. 5 -- fall insects

Saunders worked together with Amanda Kriner (AU environmental science and biology graduate in the class of 2013) of the Richland County Park District to develop the Naturalist on Duty program, now in its fourth year. Trained volunteers from the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program are recruited as guides for some events.

“You also will have an opportunity to see the Environmental Studies Center’s wetlands classroom, and learn a little more about this eco-friendly building,” Saunders said. “The boardwalk, observation tower, and most of all, the beauty and diversity of the Black Fork Wetlands will guarantee that you see something different every single time you come out. So bring the whole family, and join us for all our events.”