Eighth Annual Plant the Seed to Read Youngstown Area Children’s Book Festival held April 12!


Plant the Seed to Read, the Youngstown Area Children’s Book Festival, will be held Saturday, April 12 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Mill Creek MetroParks’ Fellows Riverside Gardens. This eighth annual event is presented by Western Reserve Public Media, the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, Mill Creek MetroParks and the Altrusa Club of Youngstown. Admission is free.

Plant the Seed to Read is a family-friendly event that brings together authors, illustrators, book characters, storytellers and hands-on activities for children to promote literacy in the Mahoning Valley. The theme of this year’s Children’s Book Festival is “Reading Road Trip.” There will be storytelling from special guest readers throughout the D. D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center. Special guests also include storyteller and actor Tim Hartman, author Nancy Roe Pimm, author Nancy K. Wallace and author Paul Orshocki. Children can also visit the Western Reserve PBS booth area to meet and pose for photos with Daniel Tiger and Princess Presto (please bring cameras/smartphones for photos). Strollers are not permitted inside the building during this event – stroller parking will be available. Sign language interpreting will also be available. Call Mill Creek MetroParks at 330.740.7116 for more information

More information about presenting organizations:
Western Reserve Public Media: http://westernreservepublicmedia.org/
The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County: http://www.libraryvisit.org/
Mill Creek MetroParks: http://www.millcreekmetroparks.org/
Altrusa Club of Youngstown: http://districtfive.altrusa.org/club-locations/ohio-clubs/Youngstown/Youngstown-ClubNews.aspx

More information about special guests:
Tim Hartman: http://www.timhartman.com/
Paul Orshoski: http://paulorshoski.com/
Nancy Roe Pimm: http://www.nancyroepimm.com/
Nancy K. Wallace: http://www.nancykwallace.com


Newton Falls senior Stephanie Baringer shows MCMP some love!

Newton Falls High School Guidance Counselor Scott, MCMP Marketing Manager Leslie, Stephanie, MCMP Community Engagement Director Samantha at the Tom Holden Memorial Scholarship Awards Luncheon


Stephanie Baringer, a senior at Newton Falls High School, recently entered the Tom Holden Memorial Scholarship competition. More than 150 students from all across our Valley entered PSA scripts written about local organizations. A team of judges from WKBN and Caring for Our Community sponsor partners (Huntington Bank, Window World and Dunkin’ Donuts) judged the entries and Stephanie’s PSA, written about Mill Creek MetroParks, was the first runner up!

MCMP Community Engagement Director Samantha and MCMP Marketing Manager Leslie recently met Stephanie, her parents, and her guidance counselor at the Tom Holden Memorial Scholarship Awards Luncheon and had a wonderful afternoon getting to know each other. Thanks, Stephanie! You make us proud!

LC: How did you hear about the Tom Holden Memorial Scholarship Competition?

SB: It was on my school’s website, and I just happened to be looking for something else when I saw it.

LC: What made you want to enter?

SB: I figured, why not? College is expensive and I don’t want to be in debt for the rest of life. You can’t get money if you don’t try. I’ve been doing scholarship applications like crazy for the past couple months.

LC: Why did you choose to write a PSA about Mill Creek MetroParks? Where did you get the idea for the PSA?

SB: When I read through the list of organizations, I got instantly inspired to do Mill Creek MetroParks. It came to me as soon as I saw the name. It automatically came to me, however I think my experience with the park shaped my idea.

LC: How did you feel when you found out you were first runner up?

SB: I was actually really surprised! I didn’t spend that long writing it and I wasn’t expecting to win after I clicked the submit button. It’s nice to know that my idea was good enough to be the first runner up. It definitely boosted some of my confidence.

LC: What’s your best memory of Mill Creek MetroParks?
SB: My best memory of Mill Creek MetroParks is when I had my senior pictures taken there. I had a Newton Falls alumni, aspiring photographer, and friend Bern Talanca take them. It was amazing to see the park in full bloom in June. She had me sit in flower beds, go under trees, and even stand on rock ledges! At one point while we were in the flower garden, she wanted pictures by the fountain. I sat down, and the water stopped flowing. I jokingly raised my hands as if I were trying to raise the water, and it worked! It started to shoot out of the pipes again and I couldn’t stop laughing. Bern was snapping pictures like crazy the entire time.

LC: What are your college plans?
SB: I will be attending the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut to major in forensic psychology in the fall. I will complete my master’s degree there as well. Go Chargers!

Starting Seeds Indoors

Tremendous satisfaction can be gained from growing your own plants from seeds. Some plants, like tomatoes and peppers, need to be started early by sowing seeds indoors. Ellen Speicher, Mill Creek MetroParks Assistant Horticulture Director, answers some questions about sowing seeds inside.

flrstartsQ: I want to start seeds indoors. How much light will the seedlings need?

ES: Lots! Usually more than a windowsill can provide during winter. Also, growing seedlings will lean over toward the light from a window. An inexpensive way to grow better seedlings is to provide artificial light. Set up a work light with 2 – 4 cool white bulbs and suspend the lights only a couple of inches above the seedlings. Raise the light to keep it above the plants as the seedlings grow. Your plants will grow strong and straight!

Q: Why is temperature important when starting seeds indoors?

ES: There are two different temperatures that help grow strong seedlings. First is the germination temperature, which is the temperature at which the seed sprouts best. This temperature can be higher than the temperature in your home so it helps to use a heat mat especially made for seed starting. As soon you see green growth, remove the heat mat and grow the seedlings at the second temperature range, called the “growing on” temperature. This temperature is often lower than the germination temperature and allows for strong seedling growth. Most seed packets list these temperatures, which vary depending on what plant you are growing.

Q: When should I start my seeds?

ES: Check the seed packet for the proper sow date. Often the date will be written as a certain number of weeks before the last frost in spring. Count back from the last week in May to find out which week you should start your seeds inside.

Q: What is “hardening off”?

ES: This is the process of getting your tender indoor seedlings adjusted to the outdoors. Once temperatures are warm enough to grow the plants outside, slowly adjust your plants to outdoor conditions by putting them outside for a little longer every day. Start by setting them in the shade and gradually get them used to being in the proper amount of sun.

Need seeds? Visit Fellows Riverside Gardens to borrow seeds from our new Seed Library! “Check out” donated flower, herb and vegetable seeds to take home and plant in your own garden. In the fall, harvest seeds from your plants to bring back to the library to restock the Seed Library for next year.

Nature Photography Exhibit 2014 | Photographer Profile: Richard Wyant

Richard Wyant of Youngstown, Ohio won first place in the ‘Monochrome’ category for his photograph, Girls Skipping Stones.

RS: My father, Gus Wyant, was an amateur photographer back in the days of dark rooms, chemicals and film developing so I suppose that’s where my original interest [in photography] came from. I’ve been taking pictures of the MetroParks for approximately 6 years. My brother Tom invited me along for a walk on the trails and I’ve been taking in the sights of the MetroParks ever since. I believe we’ve walked every trail on the map and some that aren’t.

My winning photo was taken a few hundred yards down from the Mill. Skipping stonesThe young ladies throwing rocks in the creek seemed to take me back to a time when life was slower and enjoyment was simple and innocent. This is my second First Place win in the photo contest. A few years ago I won first place in Creative Photo with my Mill Mosaic picture. I’m looking forward to getting a better camera (I’m using a Kodak 12 megapixel camera now) and getting some pictures of the wildlife inhabiting the MetroParks.

The Nature Photography Exhibit runs through March 9 at Ford Nature Center. Click here for event details. Look for more profiles of photographers featured in the exhibit all this week!

Nature Photography Exhibit 2014 | Photographer Profile: Susan Ramdin

Sue Ramdin of Canfield, Ohio won first place in the ‘Wild Animals’ category for her photo, Junco, and also took first place in ‘Wild Scenes’ for Lake Milton State Park!


LC: How did your interest in photography begin?
SR: When I was in high school I got my first “real camera” and have been photographing since.

LC: How many years have you been taking photographs?
SR: 40+ years.

LC: Tell us about your winning photographs.
SR: Junco: I’ve taken many photos of stationary birds in my yard and I wanted to take it up a notch and get them in flight. This was taken in my back yard.
Lake Milton: I was going home from the lake at the right time and the light was perfect so I pulled over and photographed it. I was at Lake Milton from the Ellsworth Road bridge looking south east.

LC: What kind of camera/gear did you use?
SR:  Canon 5D Mark ii

LC: What’s your day job?
SR: I am a registered nurse at Akron Children’s Hospital of Mahoning Valley, and I have no desire to earn a living with photography. I am lucky enough to be able to do it simply because I’m passionate about it.

The Nature Photography Exhibit runs through March 9 at Ford Nature Center. Click here for event details. Look for more profiles of photographers featured in the exhibit all this week!

Photography Exhibit 2014 | Photographer Profile: Richard States

Dick StatesThis is the first in a series of profiles highlighting the winners of our Nature Photography Exhibit.
Richard States of Cortland, Ohio won first place in the ‘Wild Plants’ category and also took Best of Show for his photograph, Milkweed!

LC: How did your interest in photography begin?
RS: I started teaching horticulture in Warren in 1972. I did not have any good slides to teach my students plant identification, so I purchased a used camera and macro lens taught myself how to take pictures and developed my own slides. After 5 different slide series and the script to go with them, I could then teach plant identification. The students were required to learn 125 different trees and shrubs by common and scientific name.

LC: How many years have you been taking photographs?
RS: 42 years.

LC: Tell us about your winning photograph, Milkweed.
RS: I found this milkweed growing along Mosquito Lake on the east side along the road that goes along the lake by the bridge. I always take pictures of milkweed; it’s one of my favorite subjects. There’s so much variation in each pod with the seeds spewing out as they ripen and the wind blows. They have great texture and beauty all by themselves. There’s just so much beauty in nature.

Richard States - MilkweedLC: What kind of camera/gear did you use?
RS:  Nikon D-700 with a Nikon D200 macro lens on a tripod and cable release. Taken at F22 with 1 second exposure.

LC: What’s your favorite kind of photography?
RS: As a photographer I do mostly close-up/macro photography. I enjoy being outside and finding flowers and plants to take pictures of. I put many of my images together and do PowerPoint programs for groups.

The Nature Photography Exhibit runs through March 9 at Ford Nature Center. Click here for event details. Look for more profiles of photographers featured in the exhibit all this week!

‘Tis the Season for Orchids!

“The earth laughs in flowers.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

We could all use a taste of the tropics during this cold, grey winter. Exotic, beautiful orchids are the jewels of the plant world, and are featured in our Jewels of Winter Orchid Show, on display now through March 16 in the Garden Conservatory in the D. D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center at Fellows Riverside Gardens.

How much do you know about orchids? Horticulture Director Keith Kaiser answers some of the most frequently asked questions about these delicate beauties below.

Q: Do orchids grow well in the home?

KK: Yes, some can do very well.  However, the best type to start with would be Phalaenopsis the Moth Orchid and Paphiopedilum the Slipper Orchid. These types will do best in the home for the beginner orchid enthusiast.

Q: I see orchids for sale in the stores that say all that is required is to place ice cubes in the pot to meet their watering needs, is that true?

KK: Well, not really. Each type of orchid has specific water requirements, so watering methods should not be generalized. Using ice cubes to water the Phalaenopsis or Moth Orchid is not a horticulturally sound practice. First, the amount of water received from a melted ice cube varies. It is much better to thoroughly water the roots until water runs through the drainage holes in the pot when watering is needed. Plus, the practice of placing something frozen on living plant tissue is harmful to the plant.

Q: Are all orchids related to each other?

KK: The Orchidaceae plant family is one of the largest flowering plant families on Earth. To date, nearly 26,000 species within 880 genera have been recorded.

Q: I heard that vanilla is from an orchid plant. Is that true?

KK: Yes, the popular flavoring used to make ice cream, cookies and candy is the seed pod of the Vanilla planifolia plant.  Actually, the part of the pod that is used for flavoring is the inside of the dried and conditioned pod including the seeds.

Now that you know a little more about these unique plants, attend one of our classes below to continue learning about the wonderful world of orchids.

Beginner Orchids – Thursday, February 6 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Have you always wanted to grow orchids, but don’t know where to start? Becoming an orchid owner may seem daunting, but this class will ease your fears and help you get your orchid to its first birthday and beyond. Dave Miller and Jackie Land will share ways to keep your orchid growing beautifully in your home.

Fee: $12; FFRG member: $10

Orchid Walk-About – Saturday, February 8 and Tuesday, March 4 from 10 a.m. – Noon

Dave Miller from the Greater Akron Orchid Society will lead an orchid walk highlighting the main varieties of orchids displayed throughout the Davis Center. You may bring an actual orchid to the walk to be diagnosed.

Fee: free

Orchid Clinic – Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, March 6 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Dave Miller and Jackie Land will walk you through repotting your very own orchid. Bring any problem orchids you may have and they will help you get them back on track. Plus, receive an orchid to repot in class and take home.

Fee: $20; FFRG member: $15


Please call Fellows Riverside Gardens at 330.740.7116 for more information and to register for these orchid events. The D. D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Fellows Riverside Gardens is open daily from dawn to dusk.