Milkweed

The second year of the Olander Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC) has officially begun! This year’s group is comprised of 13 middle school-aged youths: all are students from Sylvania area schools. The Olander Park System’s goal for the OYCC is to provide conservation-related work sessions for the corps members at various parks and natural areas in the Northwest Ohio Region. We strive to expose the corps members to as many natural areas as possible in their 12 days scheduled with us.

2015 Youth Conservation Corps walks to their first project at Olander Park.

2015 Youth Conservation Corps walks to their first project at Olander Park.

The first work session included an introduction to conservation activities and discussion of what conservation means to each corps member while crafting beaded tassels for their backpacks. After that, we walked to the far side of Olander Park to prep and plant a new native prairie area of the park.

A variety of plants were put in the ground randomly to imitate a natural prairie. The plants include nodding onion, purple love grass, joe pye weed, grey-headed coneflower, and Ohio spiderwort.

Each plant was carefully removed from its pot to be planted in to the sandy soil.

Each plant was carefully removed from its pot to be planted in to the sandy soil.

 

Corps members first prepped the bed by raking and weeding.

Corps members first prepped the bed by raking and weeding.

Then they plant x native forbs in the new bed!

Then they planted nearly 500 native forbs in the new bed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the second day, we visited Dr. Scott Heckathorn in his botany laboratory at the University of Toledo. The Corps members were assigned two projects: determining the colors of pigments in various plants and the amount of protein in three different food types. They also studied the same plants beneath a dissecting microscope and prepared slides of corn skin and leaf cells beneath a compound microscope.

The plant material was broken down by adding liquid nitrogen and then grinding with mortar and pestle.

The plant material was broken down by adding liquid nitrogen and then grinding with mortar and pestle.

Alayna shows her plant pigment after separating the precipitate plant material from the supernatant pigment.

Alayna shows off her plant’s pigment after taking it out of the centrifuge.

The food was broken down the same way as the plants. They determined the protein content of tater tots, hot dogs, and soy patties.

The food was broken down the same way as the plants. They determined the protein content of tater tots, hot dogs, and soy patties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third and final day of the first week was spent picking up litter at the Meilke Road Savanna in Spencer Township. Among the trash and treasures we discovered were old toy trucks, part of a mattress, over 25 intact glass bottles and jars, lots of scrap metal, the remains of an old microwave or radio, and even a kitchen sink! Afterwards we explored the sand dunes at the savanna.

After working hard to clean up the savanna, Corps members enjoyed exploring the sand dunes at Meilke Road

After working hard to clean up the savanna, Corps members enjoyed exploring the sand dunes at Meilke Road

Livie, Alayna, and Alena show off their Earth Star mushrooms

Livie, Alayna, and Alena show off their Earth Star mushrooms

Earth star mushrooms curl up into a ball when they dry out and unfurl into a star-like shape once moistened.

Earth star mushrooms curl up into a ball when they dry out and unfurl into a star-like shape once moistened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the day, we hauled all the trash back to Olander to dispose of or recycle.

At the end of the day, we hauled all the trash back to Olander to dispose of or recycle.

Everyone is excited for next week’s projects! See you then!