Serving the community is a central component of the BFEC's mission. Community members are invited to explore our 500-acre preserve, wildlife garden and almost nine miles of trail, which are open from dawn to dusk. The BFEC offers public programs and events such as star gazing, full moon hikes, prairie tours and an annual nature photography contest. The center regularly hosts field trips for Knox County elementary schools. Check the links below for more information or check the calendar for upcoming events.
The BFEC hosts school field trips for nearly 1,000 children every year. Since its inception in 1996, almost 20,000 elementary school children from throughout Knox County have visited. Programs offer hands-on, outdoor explorations to inspire curiosity and wonder about nature while addressing Ohio academic science standards. Download the 2017-18 field trip schedule (PDF).
The BFEC offers programs every month on topics such as star gazing, winter trees, wild edible plants or hunting for salamanders. Check our calendar often or join our mail/email list and receive regular notices.
The BFEC hosts day camps for children during the summer that are suitable for a variety of ages. Thanks to SPI and Dr. Rebecca Abbott for some great 2017 summer camps. 2018 summer camps will be posted next spring.
Plans are underway for our 2018 Earth Day Celebration. Check back in the spring for details!
Runners and walkers of all ages are always welcome on the trails at the BFEC. With almost 9 miles of trails, you can enjoy hardwood forests, restored tall grass prairies and other ecosystems.
Photographs of our natural world remind us of the beauty to be found when we take the time to look. Every year, community members are invited to enter this contest in celebration of our scenic Knox County. Photographs are due in mid-October, and a contest show takes places during our Fall Harvest Festival. Prizes are awarded in adult, children's (15 and under) and student divisions. Visit the photo contest page for entry guidelines.
Our 2017 Fall Harvest Festival was a huge success! Over 1,600 guests enjoyed hayrides, pumpkin decorating, live music, and so much more. Our 2018 Fall Harvest Festival is scheduled for October 20, 2018, from 2 - 5 p.m.
This FREE annual event provides fun for the whole family. Activities include horse-drawn hayrides, live music, children's activities, farm animals and produce, camp fire, cider press, pumpkin decorating with OSU Extension Master Gardeners and the Knox County Nature Photography Contest show.
The 2017 Christmas Bird Count was held on December 17. Results will be posted soon!
For over 100 years, the Audubon Society has organized the Christmas Bird Count to track long term trends in bird populations across the Americas. The BFEC monitors birds right here in Knox County, covering Mt. Vernon, Gambier, Apple Valley and Fredericktown. Participants count birds at home feeders or in the field along roads and trails. Contact the BFEC anytime of year to let us know you'd like to help. Email Noelle Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 740-427-5052.
This was a challenging year for field counters, with an ice storm leading to dangerous driving conditions early on December 18, 2016. In spite of these challenges, we saw a greater variety and numbers of birds this winter compared to our 2014 and 2015 counts. We saw about 1,000 more birds than in those previous years. Canada Goose numbers were especially high. Sandhill Cranes (100), Snow Buntings (40), a Merlin and one American Pipit were among the count-day notables. We had unusually high numbers of some blackbirds (Red-wing Blackbird – 94; Common Grackle – 61; a Rusty Blackbird). About two dozen Black Vultures were seen near Apple Valley Lake, which is a bit strange for central Ohio in general, but a common feature of the BFEC CBC. An unusual number of species (six) were seen after the count day, including a Greater White-fronted Goose and a White-wing Scoter. Both were on Apple Valley Lake.
Thanks to all who participated, and to those who gave it their best try in spite of the weather. Without question, this will be our most memorable CBC — or at least I hope so!
Best wishes for 2017 birding,
Ray Heithaus, BFEC CBC compiler