Howard and his wife Sarah

Owl Creek Conservancy Bids Farewell to Board Vice President - Howard Gratz

Howard was honored at the Owl Creek Annual Meeting on June 25, 2023.

Tribute by Vicki Kauffman, Executive Director.

Howard taught biology and earth science at Loudonville High School and then spent 30 years at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, as a regional naturalist and planning section administrator. He was the regional naturalist at Malabar Farm State Park, with which most people are familiar.

Howard is an avid birder, aka “bird nerd” and participates in wild bird research, including breeding bird surveys, point counts and Christmas bird counts with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Audubon Society.

A resident of Knox County since 1980, Howard has always been interested in the conservation of farmlands, open spaces, waterways, wetlands and natural areas, which made him a perfect fit for the Conservancy.  He became a board trustee in 2005, 18 years ago, and served on the board most years since then, a staunch supporter of the Conservancy and its mission.  Starting in 2009, he often served as Vice President.

Over the years, Howard provided invaluable assistance with monitoring which requires a deep familiarity with the many properties for which Owl Creek has responsibility, as well as a hard-core willingness to be outdoors in rain, snow, mud, deep waters, and high winds.  While monitoring, Howard would put his bird identification skills to good use and catalog all the species of birds both seen AND heard on Protected Properties and submit a report for the file, which is not only fun, but helpful to see which properties shelter threatened species in Knox County.  Because of his influence, I now carry binoculars in my car so I can slam on the brakes and get a good look at whatever bird is in the neighborhood.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to know Howard and to share in the good work of the Conservancy with him.  Over the last six months I’ve tried repeatedly to bully him into staying on the board, but Howard can be stubborn.  He’s going to leave us.  Howard, your friendly demeanor and ready smile, your admirable even temper, your high level of expertise in natural history, and your thoughtful wisdom will be sorely missed.

Thank you for your service to the Conservancy.