It was a cool and damp Saturday morning on November 4, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time restoring native prairie and wetland habitat out at the Zoo’s 600-acre property in Warren County. This was the second event for our new Family Community Service program, through which we provide opportunities for people in our local community to join folks from the Zoo in fun, hands-on and local conservation projects.
A group of about 30 folks—a mix of local families and Zoo staff and volunteers—gathered out at the farm at 9:00am. Zoo Horticulturists, Brian Jorg and Chase Bodkin, shared a bit of the farm’s history. In 1995, the Bowyer Farm (now called EcOhio Farm) was willed to the Zoo with the stipulation that it remain undeveloped unless it is to further the mission of the Zoo. Since then, we’ve been restoring native prairie and wetland habitat and welcoming local wildlife—from hawks to foxes to frogs—back to the area.
Restoring natural habitat takes a lot of ongoing hard work over a long time, and we were there to boost the effort by putting our many hands to use for a morning. We divided into three groups and got to work.
The first group propagated native plants being grown in the on-site nursery, which involved splitting and repotting sedges. It was a dirty job, but everyone had a great time! Over the course of an hour and a half, the group repotted 300 newly divided plants that will continue to grow until they are ready to be outplanted in the wetland.
With shovels in hand, the other two groups headed out to the prairie with kitty litter buckets full of native plant seeds and pots of young plants. By the end of the morning, they planted nearly 100 Southern blazing stars (Liatris) and hundreds of native plant seeds.
Our service wrapped up with a look at the plant nursery and a leisurely nature hike around the pond. Chase pointed out different plants, crayfish burrows and a variety of bird and bat houses that had been put up along the way.
We were pretty muddy by the time we were done, but it sure was fun, and it felt good to get dirty while helping to provide our local wildlife with natural habitat. And it will be great to get back out there to do some frog and bird surveys with the Family Community Service program in the spring!
In the meantime, our next event will be a bat house building workshop on January 14 at the Zoo (where we’ll stay warm and cozy indoors).
Sound like fun? Join us! Learn more about the Family Community Service program and how to get involved here.