What do you get when you combine the Ohio winter doldrums with a growing interest in boating and watersports? A ready-made audience at the Mid-America Boat Show.
Amidst freezing cold winds and heavy snowfall, Ohio Sea Grant Educators and thousands of others made their way to the IX Center in Cleveland for the Mid-America Boat Show a few weeks ago. It is an annual tradition, having taken place for over 25 years, bringing together water lovers, boaters, adventure seekers, and all facets of the boating industry to learn, buy, sell, trade, and catch up.
As one of the many educational exhibitors at this event, Ohio Sea Grant was thrilled to be able to teach about the importance of a healthy Lake Erie to the many visitors that attended. Stationed next to a singing pirate and personal watercraft simulator, we had some stiff competition. However, neither could stand up to the fright, ick, “Oh geez! That’s a live snake!” factor of our Stone Laboratory snakes and the al“lure” of tying your own hook for catching walleye. These were two of the many activities available to kids and adults at our Lake Erie information hotspot. Show wanderers could spin a prize wheel to be asked questions about general Lake Erie topics, decorate a fish to add to the #loveyourlake twitter campaign, sign up to be a clean boater, and peruse a selection of outreach materials and goodies rivaling the collections of the Library of Congress.
As you might imagine, visitors were mainly concerned about invasive species, harmful algal blooms (HABs), and actions they can take in their everyday life to reduce their footprint, houseprint, or boatprint on the lake. Below are some of the simple tips for keeping Lake Erie healthy that we shared with boat show visitors…they can apply to you as well…
- Clean, drain, and dry your boat when you move it to different waterways.
- Pick up trash as you see it and responsibly dispose of or recycle your own items.
- Take aquarium pets and plants back to the pet store or offer them to a school if you no longer want them.
- Reduce or eliminate the fertilizer you place on your lawn.
- Plant a rain garden at the end of your driveway or near your gutter spouts to reduce the amount of water running off of your property.
(Submitted by Jill Bartolotta, Extension Educator for Ohio Sea Grant)
(Photo credits: Ohio Sea Grant)