Welcome to the Kent Environmental Council's "Legacy for Learning" page. This page was created to recognize a special KEC grants program made possible by John Mitchell, a charter member of our organization.
Legacy for Learning Grants for 2010 Awarded
The 2010 grants from the Kent Environmental Council's Legacy for Learning program, funded by a bequest from John and Betty Mitchell, have been awarded. These projects are expected to provide useful environmental education and have significant community impact.
An award of $1,000 to Standing Rock Cultural Arts Executive Director Jeff Ingram will help fund the 2010 “Who’s Your Mama” Earth Day Festival, an outdoor Main Street event on April 24 with a theme of sustainable transportation.
Jennifer White, education specialist for the Portage County Soil and Water Conservation District, will receive $1,000 for a workshop that will inform 80 participants about the effects of urbanization and the resulting increase in storm water runoff and provide them with a fully assembled rain barrel to install at home. A second workshop was made possible with an additional $1,000 grant award for a project titled “Wonders of Watersheds Educator Workshop.” The purpose of the latter workshop is to expose educators to some of the environmental resources in the region—parks, preserves and critical areas—as well as local resource professionals who can help transfer environmental information into their classrooms.
The Portage County Master Gardeners will receive $600 for the Chestnut Hills Green Camp under the leadership of Lynn Vogel, master gardener coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Service. The purpose of this project is to create a positive outdoor educational experience and foster a sense of environmental stewardship for students enrolled in the Ravenna Parks and Recreation Summer Camp program. Students will be exposed to demonstrations of recycling, composting, watershed and water-quality issues, native flora and fauna, and community gardening.
Dawn Alber of Meadowsweet Farm Environmental Education Center will receive a $1,000 grant to partner with the Portage Private Industry Council to bring Head Start children from Longcoy Elementary to Meadowsweet Farm for the Animal Adventure program. Children will be introduced to the animals that live on a farm and in nearby areas to show the interconnectedness of people and their environment—the farm and the surrounding woods, fields and wetlands.
Finally, a grant of $400 will be made to help Jared Begue with his Eagle Scout project. He will be working to correct a problem with storm-water erosion on the property of the Kent United Methodist Church.
KEC Legacy for Learning Projects for 2008
The following are summaries of projects made possible by grants from KEC's Legacy for Learning fund awarded for 2008:
Master Gardeners Undertake Rain Garden Project
The Portage County Master Gardeners and the Portage County Soil and Water Conservation District teamed up with the city of Ravenna Parks and Recreation Department to add a rain garden to the Chestnut Hills Park site.
In May of 2008, a rain garden was installed but not planted. The Ravenna planned to add a playground to the site in June and asked if the garden could wait until playground project was completed. Following further discussions about the use of volunteers to install the playground equipment, it was decided to fill in the rain garden to avoid any tripping hazards.
Installation of the playground took longer than expected, and the area was not cleared to dig a new rain garden until late July. July and August are the worst months to plant, so the garden planners postponed installing the garden until the fall of 2008. Plans for a September installation were delayed by a change in Ravenna Parks and Recreation Department management. In mid-October, the Ravenna Parks and Recreation Department was able to excavate the new rain garden and add the amended soil. However, early October snows and the onset of winter weather resulted in wet soils that have unfortunately delayed the planting and sign installation until spring of 2009. Plans are to plant the rain garden in May.
Roosevelt High School Science Class Takes Field Trip
Kent's Theodore Roosevelt High School used Mitchell Bequest funds to purchase
equipment and pay for field trips for a new environmental science class
created during the 2007-2008 school year as a result of students'
participation in the Igniting Streams of Learning Science Institute during
the summer. Some of the equipment purchased by Chris Carman, environmental
science course instructor, included new, cutting-edge Vernier LabQuest
handheld computers and probes to perform laboratory and field experiments to
measure water quality. Other equipment purchased include traditional water- and
soil-quality testing equipment, air-quality equipment, virtual biospheres to
test the breakdown of trash, and soil- and tree-identification kits.
The bequest funds also enabled students to take field trips to local areas of
environmental interest. One field trip was to the Portage County Recycling
Center, where students observed the recycling process firsthand. Another
field trip was to Fish Creek to do a full day of water-quality testing (with
disappointing results). A final trip was spent canoeing down the
Cuyahoga River from Hiram to Mantua, allowing students to spend a day
experiencing nature up close and personal.
Overall, the first year of the class was a tremendous success, in no small
part to the equipment purchased with the Mitchell Bequest funds. In
addition, for the second year of the program, some funds were held over to
purchase Vernier's new GPS add-on for the LabQuest devices. The additional equipment will allow
students to record map points along with their data that can be uploaded to
the Ohio EPA.
Portage Park District "200 Years of Wildlife" Program
Portage County’s wildlife has changed considerably over the last 200 years, with species and habitats coming and going. Wildlife changed as humans changed the landscape through farming, reforestation and development, and changed wildlife practices.
What better way to learn about man’s effect on the landscape than by using in an interactive map that demonstrates with animal models how changes occurred. In addition to the map, adults and children can look at puppets, skulls, tracks and evidence of wildlife that has populated Ohio over the years.
Three full-size animal costumes were purchased. The Portage Park District now has on its staff Bob the Bobcat (at left) and Buddy the Bald Eagle. They have been at special events and programs this summer. They certainly attract attention wherever they go. This summer, Bob the Bobcat was spotted roaming the streets of Kent!
With the addition of new microscopes, magnifiers, and a variety of field and educational equipment, families can get an up-close look at nature. The Park District also was able to purchase new dip nets used to explore ponds at Seneca Ponds, the district's new park in Streetsboro.
These are just some of the resources that the Portage Park District is able to share with the community thanks to the generosity of KEC.
Stanton Middle School Environmental Club Worm-Composting Project
With funding the Kent Environmental Council's Mitchell Bequest grant, members of the Statnon Middle School Environmental Club were able to purchase two large worm-composting (vermicomposting) bins—worms included!
The worms and lots of newspaper were added to start the project. Next, a few times a week students would take turns weighing food and burying it deep for the worms to feast on. The students and co-advisers Meagan Joseph and Laura Murphey were shocked at how quickly the number of worms seemed to increase. Because it takes about six months to get a new compost pile established, the first "harvest" of compost for the club's fall planting.
At first, a liquid was leaking from the bins, and all were unsure if something had been done wrong. After some research, the students found that the leaking liquid was worm tea—a very valuable product that can be used as fertilizer for plants. Small amounts of the worm tea was poured on the plants that had just been started indoors. Then everyone watched the plants grow.
After that project was under way, the students decided to purchase one more vermicomposting bin. This one was larger, with layers that had a valve to dispense the worm tea that collects at the bottom. The bin was placed in a central location in the school office where staff members could throw in their lunch scraps and coffee grounds.