Great Parks Day at Miami Whitewater Forest
Q: What do you get when you add 80 Great Parks employees, 12 informative and educational sites and 87 newly planted trees to 1 beautiful park?
A: Great Parks Day, Miami Whitewater Forest!
A very special event took place on Wednesday, October 30, when Great Parks employees from a broad range of parks, departments and positions came together to achieve a common goal. It was the third and final Great Parks Day of 2013.
The Great Parks Day (GPD) format was created to provide a learning opportunity for employees, as well as a time for them to connect with each other while providing a service to the parks and its visitors. Participants were treated to many behind-the-scenes glimpses of programs and sites that make Miami Whitewater Forest such a unique part of the Great Parks and the community.
The day began with Executive Director Jack Sutton updating the GPD team on happenings and highlights from the most recent Board meeting. Buses then moved folks to the Shaker Trace Nursery, where they learned the critical and complicated process of restoring native prairie species to not only our area, but beyond park boundaries as well. Aquaculture ponds that grow hybrid bluegill for stocking lakes for fishing were also a highlight.
Next stop was the North Family Shaker Dwelling & Meeting House on Oxford Road, where GPD folks connected with the main cogs of the Friends of the Whitewater Valley Shakers (FWWVS) who lease the site from Great Parks. This tour focused on local Shaker history, as well as the efforts being made to restore the site for future generations. The learning continued at the Shaker Trace wetlands, with naturalists giving an overview of how they instill a love of wildlife/native species through school groups that come, using mainly hands-on immersion. The tour also got a taste of outrageously funny, yet very creepy, area history with a re-enactment by the Death, Darkness & Despair actors!
While lunch was served back at the visitor center, the group was updated on Great Parks recycling efforts, as well as many do’s and don’ts for home recycling. Rumpke also unveiled their brand new, state-of-the-art recycling facility via a presentation. Before the afternoon work session began, the group was given an overview of the harbor area through the eyes of the Recreation Department.
Finally, the group was bussed to the future Simmonds Dog Park site on Rt. 128, where they were taught the finer points of planting B&B (balled and burlapped) and container trees, as well as a bit of the reasons why a broad range of native species is so important for the landscape. The group then took off with shovels and rakes in hand and proceeded to plant 87 caliper trees as a service to the Great Parks and future dog visitors! The iffy weather that had loomed all day held off until the last tree was planted – and then the rains began!
The day was amazing from start to finish, and it truly showcased the passion Great Parks employees have for their work. The presenters and attendees all have so much to be proud of!
Carolyn Pottschmidt, Park Manager, Miami Whitewater Forest