Hundreds of visitors converged on South Bass Island for this year’s Lake Erie Awareness Day of fun, education, and stewardship.
The free, family-friendly event highlighted the cultural and historic significance of Lake Erie, addressed pressing environmental issues such as aquatic invasive species and plastic pollution, drew attention to land conservation efforts, showcased island wildlife, and created more awareness of aquaculture and safe and clean boating programs.
Visitors to the third annual event on Aug. 10 toured the Aquatic Visitors Center, South Bass Island Lighthouse, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, Cooper’s Woods Preserve, Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center, and South Bass Island State Park.
“The love people have for the islands and Lake Erie is phenomenal. Lake Erie Awareness Day is a celebration of our coastal areas and those who work tirelessly to protect them. Thank you to all those who help make this event possible and to the wonderful visitors who joined us this year,” said Jill Bartolotta, event coordinator and extension educator with Ohio Sea Grant.
Among attendees who filled out an evaluation, 85% reported that, because of the Awareness Day, they would take action very often or all the time to benefit Lake Erie, and 97% said the event raised their awareness about Lake Erie a moderate or large amount.
“People enjoyed learning about island wildlife, especially local snakes, such as the Lake Erie Watersnake,” said Bartolotta. “We give them the opportunity to hold these amazing animals to help people overcome their fear of snakes while learning about the important role these animals play in our natural areas.”
“Another favorite activity of the day was the ability to go into the tower of the South Bass Island Lighthouse. People who have been coming to the island for 20 years have never been in the lighthouse and were ecstatic when we told them they could climb to the top,” she continued.
The annual Lake Erie Awareness Day is hosted by a partnership among Ohio Sea Grant, Stone Laboratory, Ohio Clean Marinas Program, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Lake Erie Foundation, Great Lakes Island Alliance, National Park Service, H2Ohio, Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center, Eriesponsible, Lake Erie Islands Conservancy, Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce, and Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Funding support comes from the Center for Great Lakes Literacy, and the Put-in-Bay Official Tourism Bureau donated island maps for the event.