Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Endowments keep park going

Icons abound while driving through Mill Creek MetroParks.

Some examples: the lily pond, the covered bridge at Lanterman’s Mill and the silver suspension bridge, also known as the Cinderella Bridge.

To help give more than 15 so-called icons around the park official names, Chris Litton, development director, has helped organize an endowment program.

“Endowments can take in any dollar amount,” Litton said. “That dollar amount stays whole in perpetuity.”

Large-dollar gifts, such as $250,000 and above, are when naming opportunities become available.

Funding from the landmarks will go into a general endowment fund, which would finish capital improvements at Ford Nature Center, Litton said.

About $300,000 remains in the center’s campaign balance.

Over the last several months, Litton has met with more than 120 financial planners and estate planners to give an overview of what people can do with stocks, property and insurance.

Leaving or making a gift to an endowment isn’t designated for weathy people, Litton said. “It could be just about anything.”

In the last year, four transfers of property bequests have taken place, Litton said.

One of those who has donated is Canfield resident Mike Senchak, president and chief executive officer of the Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation.

Senchak explained that when it came time for the foundation to give money back to the community, it was decided that for the health and wellness aspect, the golf courses in Mill Creek would receive $300,000 for an endowment.

“We just felt that the golf courses … were a great place for exercise,” Senchak said.

Additionally, the golf courses are great for folks to spend time together, as well as teach children and grandchildren the game, such as what he’s been doing with his 9-year-old granddaughter.

Growing up on the West Side of Youngstown, Senchak said the park has held a special place for him as he used to ice skate on Lake Glacier, then took his children and now his granddaughter there for various activities.

The endowment is in perpetuity, which means the amount of money or value will stay at that amount forever.

Litton said that is a fact that resonates with those who give to the park.

“People we’ve talked with who have contributed over the last three years since we’ve launched the fund appreciate that the money stays whole and will always be there to take care of the park,” Litton said.

A once-popular gifting option was memorial benches, Litton said. The lifespan of a bench, however, is about 20 years.

Due to the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining memorial benches, the park discontinued the program in 2018.

For Senchak and his team at the foundation, being able to give back to the park is a great feeling.

“It’s a wonderful feeling because you now you are helping somebody else,” Senchak said, adding: “The Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation endowment for the golf course will be around forever.”

Naming rights for grabs

$750,000

Mill Creek Preserve

Mill Creek Sanctuary

Covered Bridge at Lanterman’s Mill

$500,000

East Newport hike and bike

East Cohasset hike and bike

Lake Glacier boathouse

$250,000

Long mall — Fellows Riverside

North Terrace — Fellows Riverside

South Terrace — Fellow Riverside

Slippery Rock Pavilion

Bears Den Cabin

Birch Hill Cabin

Wall Garden

Yellow Creek Lodge

Full article at vindy.com

$100K donation, new kayak racks coming to Mill Creek MetroParks

The Mill Creek MetroParks Board of Commissioners met Monday night and learned there’s some money coming for a new building. They also had some good news for kayakers.

The board approved a request from executive director Aaron Young to accept a $100,000 donation from Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens for the future construction of an outdoor education building in the family garden at Fellows.

The money is the last portion needed to get the building constructed. The total cost of the project is over $300,000. The rest of the money is in place.

It’s hoped construction can begin in the spring and the building finished sometime next summer.

It’ll be built for year-round use and will be used for many purposes including gardening classes and other programs.

The board also learned that a second set of kayak racks have been added to Lake Glacier, which will hold 16 kayaks. The other set is at Lake Newport, which holds 40 kayaks.

Recreation director Brian Tolnar says the Newport racks have a waiting list to rent spaces, adding that the pandemic has increased the number of people kayaking on the park’s lakes.

The racks rent for $25 for a season or $35 for two racks.

Full article at wkbn.com

If you haven’t already, stop and take some time to enjoy the Valley’s fall foliage

If you’ve even glanced out your window, you’ve been hit with the striking colors of the leaves this fall. Our weather team has shown you that peak fall foliage is not far off.

Lynn Zocolo, an educator at Mill Creek Park who knows all about the leaves changing, talks about what causes them to change and which trees bring the brightest colors.

There’s one thing we always have to look forward to in the fall, even in the time of COVID-19: the leaves changing.

“They’re looking beautiful but we’re probably going to have to start raking soon,” Zocolo said.

Right now, we’re in what’s called “near peak,” where we have a lot of pops of color, but some of those green leaves are still hanging on.

Peak reds, yellows and oranges are just a few days away.

“So I’m betting by this weekend, beginning of next, we’re gonna be in peak foliage color,” Zocolo said.

Chlorophyll is what makes the leaves green. When fall rolls around, the chlorophyll goes away, and trees store moisture and energy in their trunks and branches.

“Shorter days, cooler nights. The trees know it’s time to shut off the leaves, time to get rid of them, time to save energy for winter,” Zocolo said.

Are the trees brighter than last year?

“It was a little bit more brown last year and I think it was a little bit later last year as well, but when you average out the hot summer days we had and the amount of rainfall we had, it was the perfect recipe for this beautiful fall,” Zocolo said.

Some of the most vibrant trees are the sugar maple, dogwood and sassafras.

Right now, people are taking advantage of the warm weather and Mill Creek Park being right outside their door.

“I think a lot of people have rediscovered the park and rediscovered just how much it means to the Valley as a whole,” Zocolo said.

But enjoy it now because peak foliage only lasts about a week, then the leaves fall into your yard and the trees are left bare.

“Get outside even if it’s just for a short walk in the park or your yard and look up, look down, look all around and just enjoy the season, it’s spectacular,” Zocolo said.

Full article at wkbn.com

Volney Rogers Legacy Awards pay homage to 100th anniversary of memorial statue

David Sabine and the Sand Hill Foundation were honored with Volney Rogers Legacy Awards by the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation.

The award, which was created in 2006, is given to those who are dedicated to the MetroParks and its programs.

Sabine, senior vice president and senior trust officer at Huntington National Bank, was honored for his longtime support and dedication to Mill Creek MetroParks and the Foundation. He has played an instrumental role in the restoration and preservation of Lanterman’s Mill and spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the creation of the Beecher Finnegan Education Building, which is part of the Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project, a news release states.

“I’m very honored to receive the Volney Rogers Award,” Sabine said in the release. “I love the park. It’s a treasure but also represents the sacrifice and energy and devotion Volney Rogers had to create this park. It is our duty to continue that commitment to make sure the park continues to grow and to bring the benefits to the community as it has for this 100 years.”

The Sand Hill Foundation, a private family foundation in Menlo Park, Calif., provides philanthropic support for nonprofit organizations working to alleviate poverty, strengthen families and preserve the natural environment, with a primary focus in the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula.

The Sand Hill Foundation, established in 1995, has been active with gifts to the Ford Nature Center Endowment Fund and was the Naming Sponsor for the Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project in 2018. Representatives from The Sand Hill Foundation were unable to travel to attend the award presentation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s award presentation coincided with the 100-year anniversary of the dedication of the Volney Rogers Memorial Statue, located at the Memorial Entrance of Mill Creek Park at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Memorial Hill Drive. Rogers, who established Mill Creek Park in 1891, died Dec. 3, 1919. The bronze statue, sculpted in his likeness, was unveiled Oct. 12, 1920.

In tribute to the centennial of the statue’s dedication, the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation commissioned Freshmade 3D, housed at the Youngstown Business Incubator, to create a scaled replica of the statue for the award.

“What makes the award so special is that it utilizes cutting-edge 3D printing technology from right here in Youngstown to pay homage to Volney Rogers and an event that took place a century ago,” Chris Litton, development director for Mill Creek MetroParks, said.

Full article at mahoningmatters.com

Statue dedication for man who saved, created Mill Creek Park celebrates centennial

100 years ago — a large crowd showed up for the dedication of a statue honoring Volney Rogers, the man responsible for saving and creating Mill Creek Park.

Several thousand people showed up for the event on that day. Rogers himself was not there because he had died a year earlier.

The statue still stands today as a memorial to the man who helped preserve one of the area’s natural treasures.

In honor of the anniversary, the MetroParks Foundation awarded the Volney Rogers Legacy Award to David Sabine and the Sand Hill Foundation of California.

Sabine has helped preserve Lanterman’s Mill and the Ford Nature Center.

Sand Hill was a major contributor to the Nature Center’s redevelopment project.

Full article at wkbn.com

Two benefactors selected for 2020 Volney Rogers Legacy Award

In 1890, an lawyer from Youngstown was riding his horse when he came across a gorge the impressed him so much, he decided it needed to be preserved.

From this chance encounter, the people of the Valley have been able to enjoy the beauty of nature of the region though Rogers’ efforts. He bought parcels of land which led to the eventual creation of what became Mill Creek MertroParks.

The Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation has announced this years Volney Rogers Legacy Award, reserved for those who have shown dedication to the MetroParks and its programs, will go to two benefactors of the Foundation, David Sabine and Sand Hill Foundation.

David Sabine, a Senior Vice President and Senior Trust Officer at Huntington National Bank, was selected for this award for his long-time support and dedication to Mill Creek MetroParks and the Foundation.

Mr. Sabine has played an instrumental role in the restoration and preservation of Lanterman’s Mill, as well as the spearheading of the fundraising efforts for the creation of the Beecher Finnegan Education Building that is be part of the current Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project.

“I’m very honored to receive the Volney Rogers Award. I love the park, its the treasure but also represents the sacrifice and energy and devotion Volney Rogers had to create this park. It is our duty to continue that commitment to make sure the park continues to grow and to bring the benefits to the community as it has for this 100 years,” says Sabine.

The Sand Hill Foundation, a private family foundation located in Menlo Park, California, provides philanthropic support for promising and proven non-profit organizations working to alleviate poverty, strengthen families and preserve the natural environment with a primary focus in the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula. The Sand Hill Foundation, established in 1995, has been active with gifts to the Ford Nature Center Endowment Fund and being the Naming Sponsor for the Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project in 2018.

Representatives from The Sand Hill Foundation were unable to travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s award presentation coincides with the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Volney Rogers Memorial Statue, located at the Memorial Entrance of Mill Creek Park at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Memorial Hill Drive. Rogers, who established Mill Creek Park in 1891. An 8-foot bronze statute of Rogers’ likeness was unveiled on October 12, 1920, less than one year after his death at at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Memorial Hill Drive in Youngstown.

In tribute to the centennial of the statue’s dedication, the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation commissioned Freshmade3D, housed at the Youngstown Business Incubator, to create a scaled replica of the statue for the award.

“What makes the award so special is that it utilizes cutting-edge 3D printing technology from right here in Youngstown to pay homage to Volney Rogers and an event that took place a century ago,” says Chris Litton, Development Director for Mill Creek MetroParks.

Full article at wfmj.com

Mill Creek MetroParks Offers Alternative Activities During COVID-19

As summer transitions to fall, some Youngstown State University students still struggle to find activities amidst the coronavirus pandemic. However, socially distanced activities are in plain sight, just 10 minutes away from campus.

Lynn Zocolo, an educator at Mill Creek MetroParks, believes the park has a lot to offer students to decompress from everyday stress.

“I think it becomes a way to connect with nature and to get our visitors introduced to the plant collections, agriculture education and a piece of history,” Zocolo said.

Mill Creek MetroParks, established in 1891 by Youngstown-based lawyer Volney Rogers, offers visitors access to 4,500 acres of nature, activities and Youngstown history, such as Lanterman’s Mill.

“The mill has become an iconic treasure in the park and valley. It is the third mill on that site,” Zocolo said.

The first mill was built and operated from 1789 to 1823. It was replaced in 1825 by a mill with a better frame structure. But less than 20 years later, in 1843, a flood destroyed the second mill. The third mill was built in 1845.

“German Lanterman and Samuel Kimberly replaced the mill but built it up higher to avoid the floodplain, as well as build the foundation into the bedrock,” she said.

The Ward and Florence Beecher Foundations helped restore the mill in 1982. It is still used today to grind buckwheat, wheat and corn for the community.

Additional areas of the park include:

  • Fellows Riverside Garden
  • James L. Wick, Jr. Recreation Area
  • Trails
  • Bikeways
  • Lakes, ponds and more

Mill Creek MetroParks typically hosts a variety of events within the park. However, these events were canceled due to COVID-19.

Chris Bundy, a recreation manager in the James L. Wick, Jr. Recreation Area, believes students can still make the most of the recreation activities that are currently open. These include two golf courses, a batting cage, tennis, pickleball and sand volleyball courts, as well as baseball and soccer fields.

The MetroParks Farm recently added a disk golf course in Canfield to the recreation area.

“I would say stop into the Wick Recreation area, we have a lot to offer up here,” Bundy said.

Mill Creek took extensive precautions to ensure these activities follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“If you were to rent one of our golf clubs or baseball helmets or bats, we sanitize them after every use,” he said.

In their free time, some YSU students took advantage of what the park offers.

Derek Gustovich, a master student in the athletic training program, goes to Mill Creek MetroParks four to five times a week. He tries to relax at the park by only packing light hiking gear, and he explores trails daily for a couple of hours.

“I like nature a lot, so I take the trails and go hiking. Since everything is closed, it’s a place you can go out and do something. I would do a hike and if I’m not pressed for time I would stop by the Lily Pond to relax,” Gustovich said.

Chaste Chapman, a first-year graduate student in the student affairs counseling program, goes two to three times a week. During quarantine, Chapman picked up photography as a hobby while walking alongside Lanterman’s Mill.

“I was out with my sister, and I told her I never went to the park; she has many times. So I figured, why not go? All of the skills that I didn’t have, I decided to work on, and am still working on,” Chapman said.

Zocolo looks forward to the park fully reopening after COVID-19.

“Hopefully, 2021will bring new park adventures for all of us, and we can get all of our facilities back open and running,” Zocolo said.

Full article at thejambar.com

Go ahead and give disc golf a good throw

With the rise of online schooling and social media apps to talk to friends, my husband and I have been facing a conundrum related to our kids and screen time. While schooling and communicating are necessary for them, there are other times they are just playing games or watching videos.

Our children have the entire digital world available to them at any given time, if we allow it. In a digital black hole, minutes add up into hours quickly and the accumulated time looking at screens is not beneficial for their development. Our solution is to put parameters in place and to spend time outdoors as a family.

Naturally, we’ve done our favorite things like hiking, biking, and camping. However, we made a point to try new things as well. One activity we found enjoyable for our whole family is disc golf. Our most recent trip was close to home at the Mill Creek MetroPark farm in Canfield.

Instead of the digital world at their fingertips, they had a variety of polypropylene golf discs resting in their hands. The game has similar rules to traditional golf; most importantly, the lowest score wins.

We started out at the tees which were color-coded red and green. Red was slightly farther away making it more difficult. I was excited to see that we could make accommodations for the age and ability differences in our family. The object is to get the disc to the target in the least amount of throws.

When we started the first hole, I could see a metal pole with an attached basket in the distance. I pictured us leisurely enjoying the beautiful landscape and slowly progressing along the course. While I attempted to watch butterflies in the wildflowers, my boys turned our game into an interesting combination of footrace and disc golf. It appeared to matter to them who got the lowest score the fastest.

In contrast, most people relish the time spent at each hole making calculated throws. I didn’t mind the fast pace as long as they were enjoying themselves outside instead of looking at a screen. The course progressed around the lake and into the woods. The change in landscape made the game technically challenging and interesting at the same time.

Mill Creek MetroPark Farm created two courses in 2019 with funding from an ODNR grant. The front course we played on was the beginner course. Each hole is a par 3 and ideal for learning how to play disc golf. The walk to the championship course is longer past the hike and bike trail.

The 18 hole championship course is a more challenging par 60 course that covers 6,000 feet. This course also has a variety of landscapes with the majority of it taking place in a wooded area. I enjoyed that we were able to catch glimpses of the MetroPark Farm animals and crops as we walked along toward the course.

Both courses contain pond obstacles that made certain holes more difficult and in my opinion more beautiful. While I thought they were aesthetically pleasing, I really didn’t want to go into a lake to retrieve a disc. Luckily, we were able to avoid the ponds and the penalty point for going out of bounds.

My luck did eventually run out when I was stung by a ground bee. Next time, I will replace my sandals with sneakers.

An added appeal for us was that the course is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk. Directions, maps, and score cards are provided by the park to use on the course but not discs. We found our discs at a variety of sources such as garage sales, thrift stores and online vendors. Like traditional golf, different discs are designed to be used throughout the game for varying lengths such as distance drivers, fairway drivers, midrangers and putters. The midrange disc seems to be the best fit for beginners wanting to purchase just one disc. It is less technical and comfortable to hold for the beginner.

Disc golf is growing in popularity and new courses are popping up across the country. We also played at Mosquito Lake in Trumbull County this summer. I would much rather see my kids’ eyes searching across the meadow for their discs instead of the creepy stare that has become synonymous with 2020.

With 6,000 feet to cover in the game, there’s social distancing built into the activity. Go ahead, give it a good throw.

Full article at farmanddairy.com

Vision for Ford Nature Center coming to life

Peering into the Ford Nature Center, it doesn’t look the way patrons may remember.

Exposed wood and brick, with floorways covered with dust, are now the norm as it undergoes redevelopment.

“We’re just excited about it. It’s been a really fast spring and summer as far as work here,” said Chris Litton, director of development for Mill Creek MetroParks.

Asbestos abatement began in February with exterior work starting in June.

On Thursday, Justin Shrader, a laborer with United Contractors Inc. of Brookfield Township, was cutting nails that hold floor joists in the basement of the stone mansion, which was built in 1913.

Shrader explained that new support beams will be installed.

A stage house will be repurposed from storage into an education building with a classroom.

Also included in the plans are smaller educational spaces, a rooftop garden, exhibits and a gift shop.

The interior work should be done in about a year.

“This time next year we should be wrapping up and putting the finishing touches on the inside,” Litton said.

Work is being completed in phases for the $3 million Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project.

Funds are still being raised, Litton said.

Most of the money generated has come from more than 130 “everyday donors,” while larger donations from the Ward Beecher family, Finnegan family and Youngstown Foundation have been gifted to help the project.

Much of the money for the redevelopment was raised at once, and then things plateaued prior to work starting.

As work has progressed, interest in the project has been sparked again, Litton said.

Donors have been inquiring about how the process is moving along, he said.

A collection of photos taken by administration and crews is updated regularly on the park website, millcreekmetroparks.org. Scroll down to “Ford Nature Center.”

Donated to the park in 1968, the Ford Nature Center opened as the headquarters for nature education in 1974.

Since the beginning of work this year, programs normally held at the center have been shifted elsewhere in the park district, while equipment, animals and paperwork have been placed at off-site locations.

Full article at vindy.com