The Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District (Lucas SWCD) Board and staff were joined by 70 members of the community at their Annual Meeting on November 3, 2021 at the Glass City Metropark pavilion. The District celebrated its 57th year of conservation work in Lucas County.
The annual event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Guests included representatives from partnering agencies, business sponsors, 2020 and 2021 award recipients, and interested community members. Also, Barbara Orange, the northwest Ohio aide for U.S. Representative Bob Latta, was present for the Meeting.
The program consisted of dinner, provided by Rosie’s Italian Grille, and a presentation by the Lucas SWCD staff showcasing the District’s accomplishments in the past year. Following the presentation by the staff, the Toledo School for the Arts Glass City Steel drum ensemble performed delightful music for the attendees. The District also recognized several community members for their partnership with the Lucas SWCD and their commitment to conservation education in the classroom.
The 2021 Outstanding Conservation Educator of the Year Award was given to Michael Dick, a seventh grade science teacher at Gateway Middle School in Maumee. He has taught science for 30 years at Gateway, spending the majority of his years teaching seventh grade.
Many of Michael’s conservation efforts stem from initiatives to help the monarch butterfly population. He and his students participated in tagging and releasing Monarch butterflies through a partnership with the Toledo Zoo.
To take it one step further, he and his students along with the help of the Maumee Garden Club, the Toledo Zoo, the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District, and the teachers at Gateway Middle School, engaged in a problem-based learning project to install a 10,000 square foot urban prairie on the Maumee school grounds. This project was the springboard for Project Prairie, which has now been responsible for constructing 7.5 acres of prairie on 19 school campuses.
The 2021 Outstanding Student Teacher Award, a new award for this year, was given to Ethan Jessing, formerly a student teacher of seventh grade science at Gateway Middle School.
He is currently in his first year teaching 5th/6th STEM education at Hull Prairie Intermediate School in Perrysburg, Ohio. As a University of Toledo student, he was placed in Maumee City Schools for two years of student teaching as required by the state of Ohio’s Department of Education.
During his time there, he placed special emphasis on connecting students to the local science community and used Lucas SWCD to run a supplementary “Stream Survivors” event, virtually, where students had the chance to sift through a material-based stream and observe populations of micro and macroinvertebrates to make a determinations of stream health.
The 2021 Outstanding Cooperator of the Year Award was given to Metroparks Toledo. They partnered with Lucas SWCD and Toledo Spirits on a unique project in the summer of 2021 to plant and harvest heritage red corn for whiskey production. In May, the seeds were planted on 2.5 acres at Blue Creek Conservation Area (BCCA) in Whitehouse.
The corn was dried by the Blue Creek Seed Production Team and will be ground at the Grand Rapids Mill before the corn goes into whiskey distillery. Recently at BCCA, Metroparks also installed 4,000 feet of two-stage ditch on Mosquito Creek.
Also on Mosquito Creek, they rehabilitated the receiving wetlands before exiting into Blue Creek. This project has been a partnership with the University of Toledo. For decades, Metroparks Toledo has permitted the Lucas SWCD to run a demonstration farm at Blue Creek for best management practices including conservation tillage, cover crops, diverse crop rotation, and nutrient management.