2023 Oxford Citizens of the Year: Mark Boardman, Tom Farmer, and Steve Nimis

Mark Boardman, Tom Farmer, and Steve Nimis are recognized for their leadership in constructing boardwalks in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in Oxford’s Helen S. Ruder Preserve. The grand opening of the first segment of the boardwalk occurred in October 2022, while much of the work on the boardwalks has been done in 2023.

The ADA-compliant boardwalks extend on both sides of the Four Mile Creek, beginning near the corner of Bonham Road and Shadowy Hills Drive, across from Miami’s Yager Stadium. The walkways, which are wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass each other, include several wider stopping spots with benches.

The 13-acre Ruder Preserve was donated to the Three Valley Conservation Trust in 1996 by the three daughters of Helen Ruder, who lived adjacent to the site until she died in 1977. The Three Valley Conservation Trust (3VCT) is a nonprofit land trust, incorporated in 1994, in order to conserve natural habitats, waterways, and agricultural lands in Southwestern Ohio through permanent conservation easements and stewardship of properties.

Typically, private families and individuals retain ownership of land while 3VCT maintains development rights. 3VCT currently works with around 220 properties in Southwest Ohio. The Ruder Preserve is the first property directly owned and maintained by 3VCT.

The three being recognized as Joint Citizen of the Year are all Miami Emeriti Professors, Dr. Boardman in the Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Sciences, Dr. Farmer in the Department of Mathematics, and Dr. Nimis in the Department of Classics.

Bobbe Burke, who nominated the “Ruder Trio,” writes “Each time I walk along the boardwalk, new and longer sections appear. I even ran into a couple of them one day as they were checking on sections already built. What an amazing feat that ‘rather magically’ keeps growing.”

“Although many volunteers have contributed to the total building project,” Ms. Burke continues, “it is my understanding that the three nominees [Drs. Boardman, Farmer, and Nimis] have donated an extraordinary amount of time and energy that continues to extend the boardwalk. . . . Their skills, along with extensive time and energy, created this beautiful and accessible addition to the Oxford area trails. We owe them great thanks.”

The following message from a long-time Oxford resident appeared in a recent 3VCT newsletter. “Yesterday afternoon I was checking out the beautiful boardwalk, and I came across a couple sitting on the bench overlooking the creek, enjoying the day with their daughter, who was in a wheelchair. They were so happy to enjoy nature together.”

Dr. Boardman wrote in a 3VCT newsletter, “For me, [the Ruder Preserve is] just a nice place to come and sit and let my blood pressure go down. I hope it excites people to like nature and want to preserve areas like this.”

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