Out of This World
A Ferris wheel, prize-winning livestock and … space shuttles? While the latter isn’t what you might initially expect to find while strolling the midway at the Ohio State Fair, space shuttles are indeed in evidence as part of NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow exhibit. It’s just one piece of the extensive educational programming at the fair, which takes place at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, July 27–Aug. 7.
“Things that were only dreams or science fiction years ago have become reality,” says David Defelice, team lead of community relations at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, where the exhibit was developed. “Much of that is due in large part to NASA and the way we’ve promoted technology and invented new things.”
Journey to Tomorrow lets fairgoers explore NASA’s contributions to space travel and technology by bringing the lofty subject down to earth with hands-on activities sure to make any kid swap their elephant ear for an educational experience.
High-tech lighting and overhead star-fields photos from the Hubble Space Telescope set the mood for the traveling exhibit, which is housed in a 45-foot-long trailer. Computer kiosks offer innovative ways to explore NASA’s work: Visitors are invited to try their hand at landing a lunar module, discover what it’s like to be an astronaut on the moon or Mars and learn about gravitational differences on planets throughout our solar system. Representatives from NASA will also be on hand to answer every budding rocket scientist’s questions.
But, to Defelice, the most memorable aspect of the display is the moon rock that’s part of the exhibit.
“When you go on vacation, you pick up a souvenir and say, ‘Look, I went to the Ohio State Fair and I brought this back,” says Defelice.
“[For mankind], the moon rock is the ultimate souvenir. It says, ‘Look we went to the moon.’” — Ilona Westfall
For more information on the Journey to Tomorrow exhibit, visit nasa.gov/centers/glenn/events/journey_to_tomorrow.html
For more information on the Ohio State Fair and its educational programming, visit ohiostatefair.com.
Stamp of Approval
Sharon Cummings has traveled as far as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to photograph wild animals in their natural environs. But to capture the image of the dragonfly that landed on the 2011 Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp, she had only to visit her own back yard.
The Graytown resident has spent 20 years creating a private nature sanctuary on her five-acre property in Ottawa County, where woods, meadows and a pond provide refuge and food for a wide variety of native Ohio wildlife.
“When I heard [the Ohio Department of Natural Resources] wanted a dragonfly [to feature on the stamp], I went out to the pond,” says Cummings. “There are hundreds and hundreds of dragonflies out there. I saw this one male amberwing on a bent-over bulrush.”
Because dragonflies repeatedly return to a hunting perch, Cummings attached her Nikon to a tripod and settled in to wait. Her patience was rewarded with a dramatic photo of an Eastern amberwing dragonfly, fragile wings frozen in place by the shutter, perched expectantly on the dried sedge.
The shot was clearly a winner: It was selected from 280 entries by 125 photographers who entered the 2011 competition sponsored by the Ohio
Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. Winning the contest put $500 in Cummings’ pocket and her dragonfly photo on the 2011 stamp.
Bird-watchers, hikers and other wildlife enthusiasts buy the stamp to support wildlife conservation in Ohio, explains Division of Wildlife spokeswoman
Kendra Wecker. In 2010, the first year such a stamp was sold, it raised more than $20,000 for habitat restoration, land protection and educational materials.
As this year’s winner, Cummings can’t enter the competition for 2012. She has one tip for those who do, however: “I always try to get to eye level with the subject.”
This might be a challenge for this year’s entrants. They are being asked to photograph a native Ohio salamander. — Randy Edwards
To learn more about the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp and photo contest and buy a stamp online, visit wildohiostamp.com.
Where the Wild Things Are
The call of the wild comes naturally to Kord McGuire, 56, founder of Heaven’s Corner Zoo & Animal Sanctuary in West Alexandria. Since the age of 5, he’s been handling a menagerie of untamed animals, including crocodiles, alligators and snakes. Most he’s made friends with. But there have been a few exceptions. For instance, there was the cougar he adopted from a breeder. As a baby, the cat was easy to bottle-feed, but as it got older, its playful personality became dangerous.
“If you take a little domestic cat … and you pick it up and you’re petting it … well, if it bites you and it runs off, you’re OK,” he says. “But if a 500-pound tiger does that, you’re arm’s going to go with it.”
Despite the risk, it’s not uncommon for people to take in wild animals. Which is why word has spread about McGuire’s 14-acre establishment. As his skill at handling beasts of all kinds became known, McGuire began fielding calls about exotic pets people could no longer care for (case in point: Jumanji, a black leopard that was once part of a magician’s show in Michigan). When area residents learned of his menagerie, they began visiting, and, in 1990, after a few generous donations, a zoo was born.
“I’ve been doing this all my life,” he says. “There is no ‘training.’ It’s just that when you do something all your life … you know what to do.” — Jessica Esemplare
Currently, McGuire doesn’t have the funds to house, feed and care for every animal that needs him. To help, adopt an animal or
donate money, supplies and food directly to the zoo. Heaven’s Corner Zoo is located at 385 Quinn Rd., West Alexandria 45381. For more information about visiting or for a list of needed supplies, call 937/839-5005 or visit heavenscornerzoo.org.