Imagine spending a weekend in Red River Gorge getting wet and muddy while studying salamanders, frogs and other amphibians.
Each year Price Hill-based Transformations CDC, a ministry of Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador, Cincinnati, takes its Learning Club students, all immigrants or children of immigrants, to Kentucky for Natural Bridge State Park’s annual Herpetology Weekend. When the park canceled their event because of the pandemic, we developed a our own.
Paul Krusling, a retired biology professor at Mt. St. Joseph University, spent Saturday in the field, netting specimens and turning over rotting logs looking for different salamander species. He also helped kids check out different vernal ponds, some in the sun and some in the shade, for frog egg masses, tadpoles and larvae.
Dan and Judy Dourson, reknowned Kentucky and Central American naturalists and guidebook authors, led Sunday’s adventure at the new Red Oak sanctuary founded by their family. Dan met us with a hog-nosed snake, which obligingly played dead, rolling over, mouth agape and tongue hanging out. For your first time touching a snake, this was the way to go!
We also were fortunate to have Price Hill resident Jake Otte ( a member of St. James, Westwood) and Latina soccer coach Glenda Ventura among the chaperones. Both are longtime volunteers with Transformations CDC and are know all the students very well.
The kids also climbed up to the top of Natural Bridge, toasted marshmallows, scaled big rocks and generally got dirty and tired while having a blast – and learning a lot. It was fun to hear both Spanish and English flying back and forth between the kids, some newly arrived, others born here. This was an opportunity they are likely never to forget.
Nancy Sullivan serves as director of Transformations CDC. To learn more about this ministry, connect with Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org.