Creating a More Accessible Environment at Old Woman Creek Reserve

Old Woman Creek Reserve in Ohio has joined forces with the Erie County Board of Developmental Disabilities (ECBDD) to provide activities at the reserve’s learning center and on the estuary to adults receiving services from ECBDD. Reserve staff meet with the group—locally known as Erie Choices, Opportunities, Responsibilities, and Experiences—once a month to do projects, including meeting animals at the learning center, making gifts, painting postcards and making notes about their discoveries, playing wildlife games, and more. In addition, participants enjoy a hike within the reserve where they explore local wildlife, identify flora and fauna, and become more comfortable with nature.

Staff from Old Woman Creek are using this experience as an opportunity to learn how their reserve can be more accessible to this audience. The goal of the program was to create a level of comfort for the group and encourage its members to return to this and other public programs at the reserve. With some group members now comfortable enough to participate in public canoe trips, and some volunteering on a regular basis, reserve staff consider this effort successful!

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System strives to make programs and facilities accessible to all audiences. Contact a national estuarine research reserve near you for student or adult learning activities.

Black, white, and various shades of blue swirled together.
A participant in a self-advocacy program at Old Woman Creek created this postcard oil painting to show the participant’s interpretation of the sights at the reserve.