Week three of the Olander Youth Conservation Corps has come to a close. The Corps visited Kitty Todd Nature Preserve, Fossil Park, Sylvan Prairie Park, and Pacesetter Park. The jobs included nonnative weed pulling, fossil hunting, monarch butterfly monitoring, and annual flower planting. With time to spare on the last day of the week, the Corps was able to practice paddle boating and rowing on Lake Olander.
The first day was spent at Kitty Todd Nature Preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy in Swanton where the Corps members pulled nonnative plants from a site that is meant to be a barrens ecosystem. The desired weed to be removed was cow vetch, but yellow goatsbeard and deptford pink were also pulled. The Conservation Corps was accompanied by a Northern Mockingbird for the length of the morning making his presence known through stolen songs and showy flight between trees. The restoration crew leader for Kitty Todd’s seasonal staff, Ryan Gauger, came out to the site to explain the appropriate techniques used to manage the barrens ecosystem. The method of intrigue is prescribed fire. Burning removes the unwanted dead plant material from atop the bare sand allowing the ecosystem to remain a barrens. One of the Corps members volunteered to dress in the personal protection equipment needed to participate on the fire line. Finally, we went on a short hike into the neighboring oak savanna to discover wild blueberries, a parabolic sand dune, and a bright orange fungus growing on the savanna floor.
The following day was split between Fossil Park and Sylvan Prairie Park, both in Sylvania. At Fossil Park we explored the fossil pit in search of trilobites, crinoids, brachiopods, corals, and more. Several Corps members found brachiopods in the Devonian Era shale. After the fossil hunt, we headed over to Sylvan Prairie to participate in monarch butterfly monitoring with Denise Gehring, a retired Metroparks naturalist and member of the local Oak Openings chapter of Wild Ones. She explained the complex life cycle and migration pattern of the monarch to us then led us out in the field in search of monarch caterpillars. We searched in prime butterfly habitat for three types of milkweed native to this region: common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly milkweed. The Corps members inspected the milkweed plants looking for monarch eggs or larvae, as well as other insects. They also measured the plant height and judged the healthiness of the milkweeds by looking at the percentage of dying and destroyed leaves. At the end of the day, Denise gave everyone seeds of native plants to plant at home!
The last day of the week, we took the Corps to Pacesetter Park in Sylvania to plant annual flowers for Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District. We provided the group with a theme of red, white, and blue flowers with the occasional yellow marigold, or “firework”. The Corps members were then instructed to work together and come up with their own design. After discussing design ideas, the members broke into groups and took control of different parts of the flower bed. Some groups planted stripes of red, white, and blue, while others planted abstract American flags. Another group planted the yellow “firework” marigolds along the path and around the gazebo. By dividing the work that needed to be done and working in teams, the Corps members finished planting the flower bed quickly and efficiently. In a show of solidarity with our patriotic theme, a Red Admiral butterfly (pictured above) spent the day in the flower bed with us. As a reward for finishing so early, we came back to Olander and had an excursion out on the lake with paddle boats and rowboats.
That’s all for this week, only one week left!
FOSSIL PARK WILL BE CLOSED FROM THURSDAY, JULY 2, THROUGH SUNDAY, JULY 5
Fossil Park is the launching site for the Sylvania Area Fireworks Display on July 3rd at Centennial Quarry & Terrace. Fossil Park will be closed in its entirety, including the fossil pit, the parking lot, the restrooms and the trails.
These closures are for your safety. Please respect the closures, including the closed section of the Quarry Ridge Bike Trail.
See Centennial Quarry & Terrace’s website for more information about the City of Sylvania’s “Star Spangled Celebration” on July 3
The Quarry Ridge Bike Trail at Fossil Park is CLOSED for pavement coating.
The trail will reopen on Wednesday June 3.
The fourth and final week of the Olander Youth Conservation Corps is complete! This last week has been packed with great activities that will be sure to leave lasting memories in the minds of all involved. Here’s a peek at what we did this week:
On Tuesday we learned how to sample fish in Tenmile Creek at Harroun Community Park!
Dr. Todd Crail of the University of Toledo visited and told us about the great diversity of fish that can be found in our local streams and rivers.
On Wednesday, Pat O’Brien, the superintendent of the Sylvania Parks, visited us and introduced us to the management that has been going on at Harroun Community Park over the past few years.
Afterwards, we cleared woody species at the park! We really worked hard and made a big impact on the woody plants that have been growing more dense every year.
On Thursday, our final day, we had a blast learning about beekeeping from Mr. Bill Buri, a Maumee resident.
Mr. Buri showed us his three colonies of bees while teaching us about the importance of pollinators. Several of the kids got to dress in beekeeper’s protective gear!
We finished our final day hunting for fossils at Olander’s Fossil Park. We found several fossils, including coral and brachiopods!
This marks the end of the first Olander Youth Conservation Corps. We have all had a great time working with these children this year, and they have been dedicated to learning about nature conservation. We hope that this program will touch more lives in the future and that those who participate have positive experiences that create conscientious and responsible individuals. On behalf of the entire Olander Youth Conservation Corps: Thank You!
See you next year!
The parks will remain closed Tuesday, January 7, so that staff can get trails and roads cleaned up. Thanks for your patience and we will be all ready for you Wednesday at 7am! Stay warm!
Olander Park will be CLOSED on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and will only be open 7am to noon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
On all of those days, the Quarry Ridge Bike Trail, Sylvan Prairie Park and Fossil Park will be open from sunrise to sunset. However, the south (back) parking lot at Sylvan Prairie and the bathroom at Fossil Park will be CLOSED all of those days. Note that the fossil piles at Fossil Park are closed until spring.
The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library kicked off its Dig Into Reading campaign by filming commercials at our Fossil Park!
Check out the links to the videos to see Fossil Park in action. Then come visit Fossil Park at 5675 Centennial Road and dig up your own Devonian fossils! Don’t forget to visit your local library, too, and Dig Into Reading.