Science teacher Erik Ekis is pictured with Central’s Ohio Division of Wildlife award.
This past July, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife officially designated Westerville Central High School as an Ohio WILD School Site. Science teacher Erik Ekis spearheaded the multiyear effort to provide a place for students to be fully immersed in an outdoor learning setting, particularly in conjunction with his Zoology classes. To earn the distinction Ekis, his students, and numerous district and community partners completed a variety of projects ultimately resulting in habitat improvement, a documented increase in biodiversity, and a place where students can truly recognize the needs and values of wildlife and ecosystems.
- Clearing debris left from the construction of the high school and prior use of the land;
- Collaborating with district facilities crews to establish non-mowed natural areas and dig a vernal pond;
- Installing bird boxes;
- Partnering with Eagle Scouts to construct split rail fences, boardwalks, and foot bridges;
- Removing invasive plant species and seeding native ones; and
- Securing signage recognizing the value and use of the Warhawk Restoration Area.
Central is the second high school in the district to receive this designation. Westerville North was designated in 2013 after construction of an outdoor classroom building and installation of composting systems, as well as rain, butterfly, and raised bed gardens. Huber Ridge Elementary School also earned the accolade in 1998.