Join the TOPS team! Now Hiring!

Join the TOPS team! We are hiring awesome people to join our team and make a difference in the community.

Our open positions might be perfect for you if you can check off these boxes:

✅ You love or want to work outdoors in a beautiful park setting

✅ You are a team player

✅ You take pride in your work

✅ You want to make an impact in the community

Administrative Coordinator:

  • Status: Part-time

  • Salary Range: $15 to $20 per hour

  • Description: Under the general supervision of the Executive Director, this position supports TOPS by performing administrative duties, processing invoices, and tracking income.

Park Technician:

  • Status: Seasonal

  • Salary Range: $10 per hour

  • Description: Under the supervision of the Facility Manager, this position provides a clean, enjoyable environment for all patrons and to maintain the grounds and facilities.

Horticulture Assistant:

  • Status: Seasonal

  • Salary Range: $10 per hour

  • Description: Duties involve landscaping, grounds maintenance, bed preparation, planting, fertilizing, weeding, and watering. Basic plant and pests identification skills and greenhouse experience preferred.


  • Status: Seasonal

  • Salary Range: $10 per hour

  • Description: Dive into your next job and make a difference! Earn money, be a leader, save lives! Responsible for the care and safety of Lake Olander Swim & Beach patrons.

Flexible Schedule: TOPS is willing to work with employees on scheduling to accommodate personal schedules, other employment schedules, or other potential conflicts, within certain parameters.

Discounts: TOPS staff receive discounts on facility rental, free admission to the swim beach, free boat rental, free admission to internal programs, and half-price admission to contracted programming.




Blue Week 2021

Blue Week is Here!

May is one of our busier months here at TOPS. Getting ready for summer, training new staff, making the parks look great, welcoming many more visitors, all keep us on our toes. That makes it easy to overlook one very exciting week: Blue Week!!

What’s that, you say? Blue Week, annually the second week in May, is when we take time out to celebrate the amazing and rare ecosystem we live in, the Oak Openings Region! Is the soil in your yard sandy? There’s a good chance you are part of the Oak Openings Region!

This globally rare habitat is home to the most endangered species in Ohio. Yes, I said GLOBALLY rare! The Nature Conservancy considers it one of the  “200 Last Great Places On Earth.” This week is a great time to learn and explore this amazing ecosystem in our backyards!

The full schedule of events can be found here: 

Plus, TOPS has some fun virtual activities for you at

Take a hike or attend a virtual event to find out more about the area. Bats, birds, and biking are all topics covered. Find out about the beautiful flowers that grow here, and how you can use them in your garden! 

Take some time out this week, as the weather improves, to get to know where you live a little bit better. We can’t wait to see you and spend some time in this amazing place we live. 

American Woodcocks

American Woodcocks at Sylvan Prairie Park

This past month has been a great time to hear and see American Woodcocks at Sylvan Prairie Park. Woodcocks are well known for their spectacular courtship display. On spring nights, males perform very conspicuous displays, giving a buzzy “peent” call, then launching into the air. Their erratic display flight includes a distinctive, twittering flight sound and ends with a steep dive back to the ground. Have you seen or heard this magical event?

American Woodcocks are plump, short-legged shorebirds with very long, straight bills. They are about the same size as a robin. Their light brown, black, buff, and gray-brown mottled feather patterns help them blend in well with their surroundings. You can find them hidden in fields and on the forest floor, where they probe for earthworms. The variety of nicknames for this bird are entertaining and reflect their preferred habitat and their courtship behavior. They include: the timberdoodle, the bogsucker, the hokumpoke, and the Labrador twister, night partridge, big-eye, and mudbat.

Woodcocks migrate back and forth between northern breeding areas and southern wintering grounds. In spring and summer, they breed in the North, from Atlantic Canada west to the Great Lakes area. In autumn they fly to lowlands from the Carolinas west to eastern Texas, with the greatest concentration of birds wintering in Louisiana and Mississippi. Woodcock migrate north again in February, March, and April, homing to the same areas where they were hatched.

Check out these links to learn more about the American Woodcock


Check out the diagram below showing the courtship flight of the American Woodcock. 

Watch a YouTube video of the American Woodcock courtship display:

Native Plants

The TOPS Blog is BACK! After four long years, we are back to share with you some educational, fun, and informative topics provided by TOPS staff and our community partners. We can’t think of a better first topic than Native Plants from TOPS Executive Director, Erika Buri.


Getting Ready for Spring with Native Plants

Now is the perfect time to talk about native plant gardening. While April is Native Plant Month, May is the best time to put things in the ground. It’s also when the most native plants are available to purchase in our region. 

So take the next few weeks to think about what you want out of your native garden. Make a list. Are you attracting pollinators? Do you want to reduce your lawn? Do you want to add natives to your cultivated perennial garden? Do you want to create a rain garden? 

Just like the plants you pick up at the local garden center, native plants have physical attributes that will impact your garden design. What do you want your garden to look like? Will it be more formal or wild and woolly? Do you want seasonal color? How tall do you want the plants to get? 

Finally, you need to consider your soil conditions, sunlight and garden size. These aspects help further narrow down your options. Like all plants, natives have specific soil, moisture and sunlight needs. The size of your garden and what style you decide on will determine how many plants you need. 

With some planning and a little research, you will have all the tools you need for a successful and beautiful native plant garden. Take before, during, and after photos to document your progress. Share them with us and show us what you’ve accomplished!

TOPS partnered with the Toledo-Lucas County Library to create a video about pollinators and native plant gardening last spring. Native plant installation guidelines start at minute 5:25. 

Check it out here: 


Other great resources for native plant gardening in northwest Ohio can be found here:


Native plant sales happen throughout the community in May. Here is information on what’s coming in 2021:

Lucas County Soil and Water District

  • Orders prepaid by May 17, 2021

  • This event takes place annually

  • Keep an eye out for their March plant sale in 2022


Oak Openings Blue Week Plant Sale (hosted by Wild Ones Oak Openings Chapter)

  • Opens May 1, 2021 for online ordering, pay attention to pick up instructions

  • This sale takes place every May, usually during the second week

  • All proceeds go to Oak Openings Green Ribbon Initiative


Friends of Wood County Parks: Plant sale cancelled for 2021

  • Check back in 2022, usually happens the weekend before Mother’s Day


Plants available year-round:

Poppin’ Up Natives ~

  • They are hosting a spring plant sale on May 15 & 16. Check their Facebook page for details.

Toledo Zoological Society:


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.