Monday, May 10, 2010

10 - OCVN Week 10

May 5, our last class, arrived. We met at the Montgomery County OSU Extension office in Dayton, near the UD arena. The day was packed with presentations. Each team started out with 15-20 minutes. Julia and I ran into a snag when we prepared to do ours. Clare's computer wouldn't accept our later version of Powerpoint. When Julia uploaded the 2003 version, the program changed our background color and picture size. She came to the rescue and quickly selected a lighter background color and resized the pictures. Then we gave a stellar performance - the best ever. Our presentation was called "Invasion of the Habitat Snatchers." I spoke on callery pear and garlic mustard. Julia covered the European starling and American bullfrog, which is invasive in Texas.

One of my favorite presentations was by Sandy and her partner, talking on edible flowers. Each person in the room got a small container with a picture of a flower on it. You had to say whether it was edible or poisonous. If poisonous, when you opened it there was a jack-in-the-box type creature that made a nasty noise and popped out at you. If the flower was edible, there was a piece of candy inside. I think kids would like this game - us older ones did.

Several presentations ran long and we were soon off schedule. To allow time to do our course evaluations and still leave at 4 pm, Jen, one of our Wright State students, volunteered to be timekeeper. She held up a sign that let the speakers know when they had 5 minutes left. Then she held up a "Time's Up" sign when they reached the 15 minute mark. Several presentations got cut short or had their content shrunk. But we were able to get the gist of things.

While I won't miss the drive to the Dayton area each week, I will miss the instructors, Clare (our moderator), and my classmates. And I'll miss the hikes we took and the many things we learned.

As we filed out of the room for the last time, we were handed a 100 question, take home, multiple-choice test to complete by June 1. On that day we are having a get-together at a park somewhere on the east side of Dayton. The test can be mailed back to the office or given to Clare on that day. I'm looking forward to the gathering. Hopefully my husband, Ralph, will want to come with me.

This day marks the beginning of another chapter in my life. Once I am an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist, I will continue my quest to learn about nature and to give something back to the public - whether it be teaching a class, leading a hike, helping at a state or local park, etc. When I signed up for this program, I heard negative voices in my head - "You're too old... your bad knee will give out on the hikes...what if your heart acts up and you can't breath... they won't want you, you're a liability." Despite these negative voices, I let the courage of my 18-year old niece, who died from leukemia in 2009, inspire me. I decided to take a chance, and it worked. I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll leave you with these final thoughts...