History of the Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center
Spring 2000 – In the spring of 2000, after 30 years as the biology teacher at Beaver Local High School, Jim Kerr decided to leave his position there and go to work for the Columbiana County Educational Service Center. At that time, Jim had a large number of mounted animal specimens in his classroom along with some bird study skins. Since no one in the science department at the high school showed an interest in keeping these mounts, it was decided that Jim could take them with him to be used in wildlife education programs throughout the Columbiana County schools. After talking with Jim Tillman, the Beaver Creek State Park manager, Jim Tillman and Jim Kerr decided to develop a nature center in an unused house located on the park property. This house is currently used for the center.
August 2000 – All of the specimens found in Mr. Kerr’s classroom were moved from Beaver Local High School to the new nature center at Beaver Creek State Park in August of 2000. These included 23 mammal mounts, 61 bird mounts, 18 bird study skins, and 2 wings. He also brought along a number of natural history items such as eggs, nests, and beaver logs.
In 2000, the center was not open to visitors but there were 17 outreach programs presented to schools and other types of groups. These programs were presented to a total of 2129 people.
Fall of 2000 and winter of 2000/2001 – These months were spent getting the building ready as a nature center. Much of the work of getting the building ready was done by the men of Beaver Creek State Park (primarily Dave Naukam and Bill Dunlap), Barb Lesko, the naturalist from Quail Hollow, Jim and Becky Kerr, members of their families, and a number of other volunteers.
April 21, 2001 – The center opened for visitors. During 2001, 4,012 people were serviced by 68 programs at the center or at off-site locations.
May of 2002 – Jeff Hum donated 9 excellent bird mounts, mostly ducks, to the center. He has since donated several other specimens to the center.
Summer of 2002 – Sue Pike donated 17 mammal mounts and 85 bird mounts to the center in the name of her father, Tom Pike. These mounts included many excellent specimens including an immature bald eagle and an osprey.
September 17, 2002 – The first meeting of the volunteers was held on September 17, 2002 at Kathy Cattrell’s home and was attended by Jim and Becky Kerr, Jim Tillman, Bert Dailey, Michelle Vargo, and Kathy Cattrell.
November 14, 2002 – The original bylaws of the Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center Volunteers Association were adopted by the membership. Although the work of developing the bylaws was accomplished by several members, the task of the majority of writing them was done by Michelle Vargo. They have been amended on February 6, 2003, January 8, 2004 and January 10, 2008. Although, in November of 2002, a group of volunteers, including some of the folks here at this meeting, had been working hard at the center for over two years, this was the official beginning of the Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center Volunteers Association.
November 14, 2002 – The first set of official officers and trustees for the association were elected. The first set of officers were: President – Jim Kerr, Vice President – Michelle Vargo, Secretary – Kathy Cattrell, Treasurer – George Buck, Trustees: Bert Dailey, Pam Carnahan, and Mickey Buck.
November 15, 2002 – The volunteer group was certified with the Ohio Secretary of State as the “Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center Volunteers Association.” This process certified the Association as a Non-Profit Corporation. The legal papers for this process were prepared and submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State as a contribution by Attorney Jackman S. Vodrey.
March 6, 2003 – The Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center Volunteers Association became a 501 (c) (3), tax-exempt organization. The legal papers for this process were prepared and submitted to the Internal Revenue Service by CPA Thomas M. Carnahan as a contribution by Tom and his wife Pam.
July 2003 – Mitch Cattrell and Jim Kerr picked up wood for the walls in the basement thanks to Michelle Vargo.
August 2003 – The Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center Volunteers Association took an insurance policy out on the contents of the center. This covers the Association for the loss of any items in the center that belong to them.
August 2003 – We received whole house air conditioning replacing the window unit purchased earlier by the Crestview Biology Classes and Jim and Becky Kerr.
August 2003 – Jim Kerr presented his first talk on animals at the Ohio State Fair.
April 2004 – Todd Metz became the park naturalist replacing Heather.
Summer 2004 – We began to hold summer workshops for teachers and other adults. There were a total of 9 workshops presented to a total of approximately 75 people. The participants were offered college credit through Ashland University for attending these workshops.
September 2004 – Barb Lesko, the naturalist supervisor had the interpretive sign on prairie grasses made.
November 2004 – Park Manager Jim Tillman retired and was replaced by Doug Lyons
June 2005 – Todd Metz became Naturalist Supervisor when Barb Lesko left state parks.
August 2005 – The Federation met for the first time at the center.
2005 – The following organizations donated mounts, study skins, or frozen birds to the center:
1. National Forestry Service through one of their facilities in Minnesota donated 76 mounted specimens in July.
2. Dr. Courtenay Willis from Youngstown State University donated 53 bird study skins.
3. The Minnesota Division of Wildlife donated one frozen Great Gray Owl and one frozen Boreal Owl which were mounted and are on display.
4. The Ohio Division of Wildlife donated eight frozen Barn Owls, one frozen Snowy Owl, and one frozen Peregrine Falcon. Three of the Barn Owls, the Snowy Owl, and the Peregrine Falcon were mounted that year.
August of 2005 – We met with Terry McCoy to start the process of thinking about a new building and we met with Chief West from the Division of Parks and Recreation about this process.
October of 2005 – The Columbiana County Historical Society donated money to taxidermy a Barn Owl (Don Rupert) and a Peregrine Falcon (John Pipenbrink).
October of 2005 – Mrs. Yeagley donated a complete set of Ohio duck prints to the center. The cost of framing the prints was shared by the Federation and the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
January 2006 – The position of Curator was added and Jim Kerr was elected to fill this position.
May of 2006 – Andy Varsho was hired as park naturalist.
May of 2006 – Rick Weber donated a number of fish mounts.
July of 2006 – Dee Underwood donated a Gray Wolf and raised the money to have it mounted.
September of 2006 – A collection of eggs representing 128 species of birds was donated to the center by Mrs. Louise Lewis. The eggs were collected by Mr. C. S. White from Salineville, Ohio. They were collected from 1885 through 1905. The eggs were collected from across the United States and many were found in several other countries.
October of 2006 – Bud Schue donated 17 mounts (mostly ducks).
October of 2006 – We held our first rubber duck race at the Harvest Days event.
January 2007 – Jim Kerr met with newly elected Rep. Linda Bolon and Senator Jason Wilson in January about various projects for the Wildlife Education Center including building an addition and adding video conferencing capabilities.
February of 2007 – Jim Kerr received a large number of books that were donated by Boardman Park.
2007 – The Ohio Division of Wildlife donated two Double Crested Cormorants to the center and one was mounted later that year.
June of 2007 – The Association hired Miranda Morris and Jessie Lanterman as summer naturalists for 30 hours each for a total of $600.
September of 2007 – Jim Kerr sent an official request to Rep. Bolon for money for video conferencing.
February of 2008 – Jim Kerr received a call from Rep. Bolon’s office saying capital funds that year would be for building requests so Jim quickly wrote a request for money for a new building.
February of 2008 – A group of members met with Rep. Bolon about the request and decided to ask for $2.5 million but felt that $250,000 would be excellent.
February of 2008 – Kathy Cattrell began the WEC website.
April 1, 2008 – Jim met with Kim Caris in Columbus about a lease for the old building.
April of 2008 – We received a tree cookie from ODNR.
May of 2008 - Items of John and Nevada Laitsch were donated by Gina Gulutz. The display of these items was built by Lenna Lockhart and Carolyn Roble.
May of 2008 – Jim Kerr received a call from Rep. Bolon that we had been awarded a grant of $300,000 for building. The grant was in the House of Representatives and was soon sent to the Senate where Senator Wilson protected it.
July of 2008 – Richelle Slomer was hired as the new park naturalist.
August 15, 2008 – The Association received a collection of 415 study skins from Boardman Park.
June 27, 2009 – We had our first wine tasting fund-raiser event.
July of 2009 – Todd Lyons became manager at Mosquito Lake State Park
July of 2009 – Todd Metz was promoted to Assistant Park Manager.
August 24, 2009 – A & I Studio was chosen by the Association to design the new addition to the center. The architect was Scott Sheppard.
September 24, 2009 – The lease agreement was signed by the governor and the building and a small amount of land was leased from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. At this time, the volunteers association assumed the responsibility of paying for all expenses associated with the center including insurance on the building and all utility expenses.
In 2009 there were 195 programs offered which served 9,938 participants at the Wildlife Education Center and off-site.
December 14, 2009 – The HB 562 Improvement Legislative Grant Agreement was fully executed.
March 17, 2010 – Bids from contractors for the building project were opened.
March 29, 2010 – The Association met with contractors to determine which ones would be picked.
April 6, 2010 – Diane Less was hired to paint the mural in the large display room.
April 6, 2010 – The contractors for the project were chosen.
April 25, 2010 – The ground breaking ceremony was held.
Winter 2010/Spring 2011 - The volunteers spent the winter building new displays and getting the Wildlife Education Center ready to open in May 2011 with the new addition.
March 23, 2011 – The project is officially completed for the contractors.
April 2, 2011 – The wine tasting fund raiser at the WEC was held and was the first event at the new center.
April 30, 2011 – The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the WEC was held.
2011 - There were 135 programs offered to a total of 9,343 participants at the center and off-site.
Winter 2012 - The volunteers did a major renovation of the North American Wildlife display. Diane Less painted a mural showing the four seasons that highlights the display.
April 2012 - Additional parking spaces were made and paved with a bus turn-around area.
April 2012 - The new live honey-bee display has been installed.
May 2012 - Jim Kerr won the Outstanding Interpretive Volunteer of the Year Award from the National Association of Interpretation.
June 2012 - Kathy Cattrell, volunteer at the Wildlife Education Center, retired from teaching at Crestview High School and donated a large number of specimens to the Wildlife Center that she had collected during her time at Crestview. This included 7 birds nests, 10 mammal mounts, 17 bird mounts, 1 snake mount, 14 study skins, and other animal artifacts.
August 2012 - Purchased a marquee sign with changeable letters to be placed at the end of the entrance.
Fall 2012 - Rain garden was installed.
2012 - There were 120 programs offered to a record total number of participants of 10,781 at the center and off-site. Spring 2013 - Thanks to a grant from Camp Frederick, new bird feeders and bird cams were installed in the bird viewing area.
Spring 2013 - Kathy Cattrell hosted two taxidermy classes. One for doing bird study skins and one for doing squirrel mounts.
Spring 2013 - Jim Kerr traveled to Florida to pick up taxidermy mounts from Tony Gilyard: burrowing owl, black vulture, sand hill crane, and a yellow crowned night heron.
Spring 2013 - Karl Mattern became the park manager.
October 2013 - First Falconry event was held at the center. Mick Brown and other falconers brought their Harris Hawks for a demonstration that was well-attended.
Fall 2013 - The Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center Volunteers Association won the Thomas Say Naturalist Award of Excellence from the National Association of Interpretation. This is a national award.
February 2014 - The first Night at the Races event was held as a fund-raiser and was attended by a large number of people.
2014 - Paul Thomas, a local taxidermist, donated additional mounts, an Aoudad sheep and a collared peccary. This increases his previous donations of the two grizzly bears, a mountain goat, a Dall sheep, and 12 animal skulls.
2014 - The by-laws were revised.
Summer 2014 - Logan Goist and his father worked on the Logan's Loop trail, built a new sign at the entrance, and created a brochure about the trail.
Winter 2015 - The Hands-on room was renovated and renamed The Discovery Room. Thanks to John Ferrante for designing the changes and to all the other volunteers for making this a successful project. Jay Patterson and other volunteers built the new reptile and amphibian display case.
2015 - Eagle Scout Thomas Burgess constructed a flag pole in front of the Wildlife Education Center.
2015 - The number of visitors to the Wildlife Education Center continues to be very strong in 2015. School groups visit for programs on wildlife and conservation topics, and our volunteers have presented many programs to various community groups in Columbiana County, Mahoning County, and other areas.
2016 - The family of Ted Enders loaned the Wildlife Education Center a nice collection of mounts that had been collected by Ted during his lifetime. This included a caribou, grizzly bear, two wolves, two whitetail deer, cougar, two skunks, and a mink. These mounts will be displayed in the remodeled North American Wildlife Room. This loan along with donations made by Paul Thomas will make this the best display we have ever had in this room. Also, replicas have been purchased to add to the reptile and amphibian display.
2016 - Curt Grimm donated three small bear mounts that will be added to the North American Display.
Summer 2016 - The Wildlife Education Center Volunteers Association received a Capital Improvement grant to add on a new room that will house the North American Wildlife display.
Fall 2016 - Work started to prepare for the new room addition. Two trees at the end of the current building were cut down. The stumps and old sidewalk were removed. The display in the old garage room (current North American Room) were removed in preparation for construction.
February 2017 - The construction of the new North American Display room has started!!! Thanks to the donations from many generous people and groups who support the Wildlife Education Center, this project will be able to be completed
The number of specimens at the center has grown from the total of 102 mounts and study skins brought to the center by Jim Kerr from Beaver Local High School in August 2000 to the current total of well over 300 mounts and over 300 study skins. Our bird egg collection has reached 220 species, mostly collected in the late 1800's and early 1900's. we also have a large insect collection under the direction of Janis Kell, a collection of rocks and minerals under the direction of Cheryl Mattevi, and an excellent collection of native American artifacts donated by Bob and Denise Lane. There are many other displays in the Wildlife Center that are all produced by volunteer members.
The center continues to build its collection of animal mounts, eggs, and skulls. We continue to search for private collections of eggs and mounts that are no longer being used as well as other artifacts. Because of limited space, we cannot accept head mounts. We are a 501C3 non-profit corporation and our mission is to educate students and adults about wildlife, so any additional specimens we receive will help us to complete our mission. Please contact Jim Kerr at 330-301-0019 if you know of any items that could become a part of our displays.
The Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center is operated by unpaid volunteers and is funded completely by grants, local fund-raising events, and donations. The Center does not receive any financial support from Ohio State Parks or Federal dollars.
Visits to the Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center remain free to the public.