July is Parks and Recreation Month! We’re also celebrating our 90th birthday this July. While we can’t celebrate with you in person right now, we’re commemorating these occasions in a different way: Meet the faces behind Great Parks of Hamilton County. Learn more about the people who are passionate about bringing you the best experience every time you visit your favorite Great Park.
Meet Stephanie Morris, Central Region Nature Interpreter
How long have you worked for Great Parks of Hamilton County?
What first interested you in working in parks and recreation?
My favorite childhood memories are of exploring nature in the parks, so when a summer job became available, it felt like a good fit. It wasn’t my intention to make a career out of it, but after working in labs, classrooms and museums, I realized this is what I love and there’s nowhere else I’d rather spend my time away from home.
What is a typical day at work like for you?
There is no such thing as a typical day in the life of an interpreter! One day we’re tapping maple trees with preschoolers and the next we’re taking a vulture to visit a group of seniors. Weeks can be packed with planning and presenting programs, answering nature-related questions, keeping up with the seasonality of nature and caring for the program animals. Days are never dull and I am always faced with new challenges to keep the work fresh.
How does your work directly impact park guests?
If you spend much time at Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve, you’ll notice the sense of community among staff and guests. As part of an amazing team, I plan programs and events that allow people to connect, not only to the natural world, but to each other as well. Whether coming specifically for an educational experience or a brief reprieve from the chaos of Colerain Avenue, we hope our guests find their visit more enjoyable and leave feeling more in tune with the natural world.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Do I have to pick one? I love watching our guests enjoy the experiences I have worked to create. Whether it be the excitement of a child holding their first crayfish or the walkers admiring a trail-side art display, I am reminded of the importance of what we do.
Additionally, I get to work closely with the education raptors housed at the parks. There is something indescribable about having a hawk or vulture on the glove. These birds have amazing adaptions and incredible skills and I am always excited to share their stories with our guests.
Who do you spend the most time with outside of work?
When I’m not working, I’m hanging out with my boys. I love being mom to these kids and am inspired by their sense of wonder. At 7 and 9, they are full of questions and don’t shy away from investigating to find the answers.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Most of my free time is spent outdoors. You can find me on the bike trails, hiking or curling up in a hammock with a good book. When not seeking quiet, I enjoy filling the air with my not-quite-polished ukulele playing, much to the chagrin of my children.
Do you have a favorite spot in Great Parks?
The Miami Fort Trail at Shawnee Lookout is my favorite spot in all of Great Parks. When standing at the point overlooking the confluence of the Great Miami and Ohio Rivers, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that people have walked this ground for thousands of years. Though the landscape has changed, I like to think they were drawn here for the same sense of peace I feel in that space.
What are your hopes for Great Parks of Hamilton County’s next 90 years?
I hope Great Parks continues to be a strong factor in the community. Parks are important, not only for building community, but also protecting our natural and cultural treasures so the stories can be passed on to future generations.