Go green with Mill Creek

By Alex Sorrells / The Jambar

Mill Creek MetroParks is hosting its Backyard Conservation Lecture Series throughout spring to teach community members about the benefits of native biodiversity.

The three-part lecture series at Kenneth F. McMahon Hall in Canfield is organized with Mahoning County Land Bank and the Mahoning County Soil & Water Conservation District. Two sessions have already taken place March 20 and April 17, with the last set for 6 to 7 p.m. on May 15.

Zachary Felger, district outreach and education coordinator for SWCD, said the series helps people learn how to incorporate biodiversity at home.

“We are discussing some of the ways residents here in Mahoning County can begin implementing some of these conservation practices like incorporating rain gardens or pollinator habitats into their residential landscapes,” Felger said.

Felger said native plants such as milkweed feed pollinator species and protect against flooding in the wet season.

“The most beneficial way people at home can improve upon their habitats at their house is starting by incorporating native plants,” Felger said. “Even something as simple as common milkweed into their landscape because of how beneficial it is to various insects — such as that of the monarch butterfly — as well as how impactful they are to improving soil drainage here in our local environment.”

Community members gathered to watch the lecture. Photo by Alex Sorrells / The Jambar

Gary Davenport, project coordinator for the Land Bank, said he hopes to inspire community members to take action and implement something beneficial into their lawns.

“I hope people take away that they are able to take steps in their landscaping this season using native plants,” Davenport said. “They can go home and make a decision to do something a little bit different. They can also take on longer-term projects, but if they would like to use native plants in their landscaping — and it’s a very real possibility for them to do that after they’ve been to these lectures and other programming that we have coming up.”

According to Davenport, many native plants are available for purchase at nurseries and garden centers that would be helpful for landscaping.

Operation Pollination is a partnership assembled by the Youngstown Rotary, the Land Bank, Mill Creek MetroParks and SWCD that utilizes native plants in projects around Mahoning County.

“We try to bring our imagination to some of the work that we do, and that involves greening too,” Davenport said. “We have used native plants in our greening projects, and that puts us in a partnership with Operation Pollination.”

While the Backyard Conservation Lecture Series ends in May, similar events and lectures will take place in the future, hosted by the partnership.

“We will have lectures at this point through fall and they will cover topics like seed preparation and sowing and how to de-lawn your yard in a given municipality like Youngstown or one of the townships,” Davenport said.

Felger said he looks to the future of these conservation efforts and how they may affect the community.

“I just look forward to seeing this conservation effort within our community members grow and seeing all the different projects and conservation projects that people begin to implement here in Mahoning County,” Felger said.

Those who are interested in the final part of the lecture series can register for $5 on Mill Creek MetroParks’s website until May 13.