By Karla Kauffman, Jubilee Mennonite Church, Bellefountaine, Ohio.

A 2019 United Nations study listed a million species around the world which are under threat. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources lists eight endangered species and five threatened species in Logan County, plus many species of concern, shown here. Jubilee feels grief at the suffering and losses due to climate change and humans’ treatment of the earth. 

Jubilee’s 2017 eco-theology statement says in part, “We are inspired by Bishop Irenaeus’ view that ‘the glory of God is every creature fully alive.’  We believe God calls us to participate in that glory by serving and shepherding our earth home.” Here Today will be a way to express our grief with the local community and serve our earth home, honoring some of its endangered residents. We hope it will be a creative avenue for young Logan County residents to engage with the issue, stimulating community conversations and deepening understanding of our role in the natural world.

Fifteen children will be invited to participate in this project January through May 2021. The curriculum will contribute to their studies in science, geography, art, and public speaking. Requirements are: interest, ability to read at a beginner’s level and parental commitment. Karla Kauffman, project coordinator, will design the curriculum and provide a monthly packet on a total of 25 species from the UN Report and Ohio DNR list, including species from Logan County. Each student will choose one species per month to study, learning about its life span, role in its ecosystem, its habitat, what it needs to thrive, and the dangers it faces. Local trips to habitats may occur.  Each participant will fill a workbook about their chosen species which will include at a minimum the common name, scientific name, locations where their species is found, role in the habitat, and visual representation. Other insights and information will be encouraged. By May, participants will choose one species and tell a “six-point story” about it: Origins, Habitat, Survival and Life Span, Service, Threats, and Thriving. 

A coordinator will check in monthly to assure that the project is proceeding and provide encouragement and assistance as needed. A mental health professional will monitor emotional impacts of the project monthly and during the day camp, staying alert to anticipatory grief reactions and emotional vulnerability due to the novel coronavirus.

Participants will gather for a day camp June 28 – July 2, 2021. Sam Bartlett, artist in residence, will help them design and build a large wooden representation of their species. Participants will be invited to share their six-point story.

We will host a party for the public Friday evening, July 2, to display artwork and share stories. The art will then be on display for a month in a public community space.  After that, participants can place their art where they choose.

The horse pictured illustrates the style of the consulting artist.