All posts by OlanderAdmin2

Lourdes University Lends Lots of Helping Hands!

On Friday, October 7, 2016, Sylvan Prairie Park’s south parking lot was full!!! If you happened to look around the park that morning, terracotta and black clothing was seen at every corner and even a few could be found in the middle of the prairie! Over 60 Lourdes University students, faculty, and staff came to lend a helping hand with The Olander Park System’s Natural Resources Team during their morning of service.

With shovels, gloves, trowels, and bags in hand, everyone was off to help make environmental impacts restoring riparian (stream-side) habitat on two ditches in the park and collecting milkweed seeds for Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) ( on a beautiful sunny day. Five 25 gallon totes were overflowing with collected milkweed seeds that morning. More than 200 trees and 500 plants were planted in the riparian zones, as part of a stream-side restoration project funded by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, under the provisions of Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act.

The Lourdes students were able to learn about the park, our restoration efforts, and OPHI up close with a hands on approach. Some hands were dirty, and others sticky! But, we all enjoyed the camaraderie and sunshine while making a difference in our community!

Thank you for sharing your time and talents with us!!!! As one student mentioned, “This was great!, I can come back in 5 years and say I planted that!” Please do! We hope you will come back and watch the changes you helped make possible and often!  We hope to see you all at the park again soon! img_20161007_110737293_hdr img_20161007_114634087 img_20161007_104911848 img_20161007_102032435

Lourdes University helps out at Sylvan Prairie Park

Lourdes University has been encouraging their students to volunteer with The Olander Park System (TOPS) for years. Students help us with monitoring stream health, measuring changes in plant community, planting trees and other native plants, and controlling non-native invasive plants.

Dr. James Minesky, Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences, is one of the driving forces behind Lourdes University’s partnership with Olander. He recently said, “We bring Lourdes University students to volunteer with The Olander Park System because TOPS is a fabulous community asset and we believe it is important for students to be involved in volunteer work and service learning that supports and enhances the assets and resources in our community. A college education is about more than earning a degree in a particular discipline – it is also about understanding the resources and challenges in your given community and how a person’s education can help improve the quality of life in the community.”

CLICK HERE for an article about a recent day when Lourdes University helped plant trees at Sylvan Prairie Park.

Photo by Helene Sheets. Accessed from

ZOOTeens at Sylvan Prairie Park

A group of ten ZOOTeens joined The Olander Park System’s Natural Resources Team to help out our native plants and wildlife at Sylvan Prairie Park this week.

The teens pulled piles and piles of the non-native invasive plant, Spotted Knapweed. If left unchecked, the weed can dominate a site, out-competing our native plants and making the area less diverse. Less diversity in the plant community means less types of native insects and wildlife can live there.


ZOOTeens pull knapweed at Sylvan Prairie

The ZOOTeens have been volunteering to do this kind of conservation work at TOPS Parks every month for over a decade!


Timberstone Junior High Helps Out at Sylvan Prairie Park

On May 12, eighty 7th graders from Timberstone Junior High School spent their school day outside at The Olander Park System’s Sylvan Prairie Park. The students planted 300 native trees and shrubs, and 1,000 native grasses and wildflowers, and participated in an educational water quality activity led by Partners for Clean Streams’ Mike Mathis.2016-05-12 13.32.42

This is the 5th year Timberstone Junior High’s 7th Grade Reading class has partnered with The Olander Park System for this day of community service. Teachers Melissa Dubiel and Tammy Gordon organize the 7th Grade class’s annual community service program called “Packed with Pride.” Each year, the 7th Grade Reading students organize, publicize and complete drives for local organizations. This year they collected items for Paws and Whiskers, Hannah’s Socks, Fellowship Matters and Austin’s Book Club. The field trip to help The Olander Park System plant trees is a culminating activity for a year of helping the community. The school funds the field trip through a grant from Target.

Sampling the Stream

Sampling the Stream

This year at the field day, teachers Joe Wendt, Ellen Bellemore and Melissa Dubiel supervised groups of students who worked with staff from The Olander Park System to plant native trees and grasses and wildflowers at Sylvan Prairie Park. The planting is part of a floodplain restoration project financed through a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, under the provisions of Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act. Olander Parks designed the project to create new wildlife habitat in the floodplain and improve water quality in the streams of Sylvan Prairie Park. The 7th graders learned about these water quality benefits and about the critters that need clean streams to survive during a fun hands-on stream activity put on by Mike Mathis from Partners for Clean Streams.

Living Things in the Stream

Living Things in the Stream

The 7th graders were excited to see wildlife using the land they were helping to restore. They saw Leopard Frogs, American Toads, Deer Mice (babies!), Crayfish, Snapping Turtle (baby!), Killdeer (eggs!), Red-tailed Hawk, and even a Long-bodied Cellar Spider eating ants. TOPS was excited to partner with the school and Partners for Clean Streams to make the “Packed with Pride” field trip a meaningful learning experience for the 7th Graders of Timberstone and to promote a connection with nature in this young generation.

Spring Ephemeral Wildflowers

You’ve heard that April Showers Bring May Flowers. But there are beautiful wildflowers blooming in April, too! We call them Spring Ephemerals because they bloom in Spring, and they don’t last very long! They are small flowers that grow in shady spots in the woods. We have several species of spring ephemeral wildflowers in the little pockets of woods at Sylvan Prairie Park, including those pictured here, plus Virginia Waterleaf, Nodding Trillium, Giant Trillium, Spring Beauty, White Trout Lily, and Wild Ginger. They’re still blooming now, but they won’t be for long, so head out to your favorite wooded park and take a look!

Wild Blue Phlox

Wild Blue Phlox by Todd Crail

yellow trout lily

Yellow Trout Lily by Maureen Bogdanski

dutchmans breeches

Dutchman’s Breeches by Todd Crail

Migrating Waterfowl are Here!

Every spring (and fall) Lake Olander plays brief host to several species of migrating waterfowl. These swimming and diving birds (ducks, grebes, coots and more) use lakes like this one as resting spots while they make their long journeys between their wintering sites in Mexico or the southern U.S. and their breeding grounds in Canada or Alaska.

And some of them are here right now!!

Ruddy Duck

“Ruddy Duck” by dfaulder, via Wikimedia Commons

Just in the past hour, I’ve seen pied-billed grebes, a pair of ruddy ducks, a bufflehead, and a possible horned grebe. Plus everybody’s favorite Lake O spring visitor… a Common Loon!

Common Loon

“Common Loon” by P199 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

I got a special treat while I was focusing my spotting scope on the ruddy duck … one of our resident adult Bald Eagles swooped over the lake right in front of me. It was carrying a bird in its talons! The eagle carried its prey across the lake a couple times before finally settling right by the playground to finish eating its dinner.  What a sight.

This week is a great time to come check out all sorts of birds at Olander Park!