Island Nature & Wildlife Center receives $12,475 in grants

Aug 31, 2022 | Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Young nature campers learn to use binoculars at the Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center (LEINWC) on Put-in-Bay.

Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center (LEINWC) on Put-in-Bay and South Bass Island has benefited the past two years from receiving Ottawa County Community Foundation (OCCF) community grants totaling $12,475. The grant monies have helped further camp accessibility and geology education.

“We are very grateful for the support from the Ottawa County Community Foundation,” said LEINWC Director Renée Fultz. “We were incredibly fortunate to receive OCCF grants that have made a huge impact.”

This year, LEINWC received $8,500 for its Nature Camp program, which it tries to keep as affordable as possible for families from all backgrounds. From Middle Bass and Put-in-Bay, the organization welcomed approximately 125 campers. Most live on the islands or have area family or friends. The water theme allowed campers to learn about water cycles, water quality, invasive plants, plastic pollution and how these factors impact the health of Lake Erie and their drinking water.

LEINWC also brought back island campouts for the older campers — Middle Bass and South Bass (ages 9-10) and North Bass (ages 11-14) — after two years without, due to the pandemic. Thanks in part to the OCCF grant, LEINWC was able to hire camp employees at an adequate camper-to-staff ratio and to fund kayaking and Stone Lab programs, including freshwater studies aboard the research vessel Bio Lab.

“We love being able to provide that important connection to nature in a safe and fun environment,” said Fultz, noting that for the younger group, this is often a child’s first camping experience.

“The kids had a blast. Nature Camp was a wonderful success, this year,” she said.

Sidewalk chalk art expresses one camper’s love for Nature Camp on South Bass Island.

“Through hands-on learning, classes, and interactive displays, the dynamic staff of the Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center fosters a sense of wonderment and fun for all ages,” said OCCF Trustee Julene Market, who lives on Put-in-Bay and actively promotes nature and eco-tourism events on the islands. “I am so glad OCCF has chosen to support the Wildlife Center’s worthwhile mission.”

In 2021, LEINWC also received $3,975 to develop an animated video of how the Lake Erie Islands were formed. The video, created with extensive input from leading geologist Dr. Ed Herdendorf, “adds a significant educational aspect to the geology display and improves our ability to educate visitors on the unique geological history of the islands,” said Fultz.

LEINWC has had nearly 6,000 visitors so far this year. Many have taken the time to watch the 4-minute animation, which has led to conversations about how the islands and Lake Erie were formed over the past 14,000 years. For more information about LEINWC, visit

Established in 1999, OCCF provides a steady support system for dozens of nonprofit community organizations across Ottawa County. OCCF receives contributions from individuals, families, businesses and other entities wishing to help their community neighbors. It is an extension of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation and has approximately $11 million in assets, while administering more than 100 locally grown funds benefiting the fields of education, health and social services, economic development, natural resources and the arts. OCCF has distributed more than $6 million in Ottawa County community grants and scholarships since its inception.

OCCF donors may establish named funds to aid a specific organization or program, provide student scholarships, or create unrestricted funds used for annual grants benefiting local nonprofit organizations like LEINWC. For information, call 419-635-7750, email or visit

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