One thing that sticks in his head is that a while back, some Boy Scouts were up from Cincinnati for a scouting function, and they saw deer, Schwable said. One boy said, “Look at the skinny cows!”
There’s a lot of need for ecological education, and not only for children and teens.
They plan to offer quarterly education programs with the Butler County Soil & Water Conservation District about such topics as how to grow good plants and prevent the kinds you don’t want.
Brady Smith, a rural specialist with the soil and water district, thinks the center will be a valuable place.
“The programming that we’re working on right now with them, it’s called, ‘The Pollinator Series,’ to get homeowners interested in pollinator plants, native plants, that they can use in and around their yards and their landscaping, rather than some of the different varieties sold in the garden centers that aren’t favorable toward native pollinator species,” Smith said.
They were recently pleased to learn they won a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, like the one Hamilton Urban Garden Systems (HUGS) did, to install a 30-by-70-foot “hoop house” greenhouse next to the newly rehabbed building. It will be used for education, and also to nurture native plants and trees to maturity levels so they survive devouring by deer and rabbit.
Troy Schwable said efforts to create the nature center were helped by many. They included John Cook, the park maintenance superintendent of the Hamilton Parks Conservancy, who laid all the building’s tile floors.
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Artist Jennifer Acus-Smith and her painting crew decorated the front of the building with a mural featuring plants and the creatures that pollinate them.
Joyce Park and the adjacent Riverside Natural Area contain a treasure of wildlife and plants. They include beaver, bald eagles and other birds of prey, and many kinds of bees. After the devastation that happened to eagles from pesticides, “I never, ever thought that was a possibility,” to see bald eagles anywhere in this part of the country, Schwable said.