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Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks
Students from Trumbull and Mahoning County schools and area colleges are coming together in unity as part of a “Unity Project”designed to not only showcase students’ artistic talents but share a message of building a better community and world.
The Unity Project with the theme “UNITE! Dream to build a better community, a better World” is being displayed through Jan. 31 at Mill Creek MetroParks Fellows Riverside Gardens. A reception and open house to meet students who took part in the project is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education Center.
Tracy Schuler Vivo, director of Visual and Performing Arts for Youngstown City Schools, said this is the second year for the project, which started with Youngstown school children and has expanded to eight other area schools such as Austintown, Liberty, Lordstown, Kent State University and Youngstown State University.
Each school and district submitted large 3-foot by 4-foot collaborative paintings on canvas in December. Pieces include images, symbols, letters and lines along with a theme and quote.
“The Unity Project is a true community effort. The project symbolizes unity through the collaborative painting process. The students showed a lot of effort and work in completing this. This project brought everyone together and shows the community that we can all be part of something together,”she said.
There will be 24 canvases, with 12 from Youngstown schools.
Vivo said students in both elementary and high schools had the opportunity to contribute to the Unity Project, painting in their own way. Each painting was accompanied by a quote explaining each building’s take on unity.
Each school received a blank canvas to be utilized for a collaborative painting / project with visual art students creating a unified vision for the collaborative project in correlation with the theme. A title for the piece and an original quote generated by the discussion between the visual art teacher and students also accompanied it.
“This project was a big success last school year in its inaugural year and we are now broadening our reach to other districts and area universities this year. Last year’s images will soon be displayed permanently in downtown Youngstown in collaboration with YSUscape,” she said.
Following the display at Mill Creek Park, the exhibit will be shown at other area locations for the remainder of the 2018-19 school year, at community venues such as Mahoning County Library branches and the McDonough Museum of Art.
Verna DelDuca, art teacher for Lordstown schools, said each student taking art at Lordstown High School was asked to develop and contribute to the art piece that promoted community building. When completed, the project was titled “Rays of Light” with the slogan “Let the community rays of light shine.”
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Four years ago, Mill Creek MetroParks announced plans to renovate the Ford Nature Center. But, the park system is still $1 million short of the money needed to get it done.
It’s been a long fundraising effort which, if all goes as planned, should end in the next few months.
Looking at some of the park’s drawings can give you an idea of what a renovated Ford Nature Center will look like.
“As you move around to the back of the building, you’ll see some dramatic changes,” said Mill Creek Development Director Chris Litton.
The back of Judge John Ford’s 106-year-old house will be the focal point of the renovation, with a landscaped patio on top of a new exhibit space built into the hill.
The exterior will be cleaned and the carriage house transformed into an education center. Inside is where, since 1972, students have been taught about nature. It too will be redone with new stairs and an elevator added.
“It’s a $3 million project. We’ve raised $1 million over the course of the last year and we received a million dollar match from the Sand Hill Foundation of Menlo Park, California,” Litton said.
Sand Hill is run by the daughter-in-law of the late Judge Ford, who lived in the house and gave it to the park. When she heard the house was going to be preserved, she wanted the Ford family to be a part of it.
That leaves $1 million still to be raised, which Litton admits is a lot of money. But, he hopes to have it done by spring.
“People love Mill Creek and love the Ford Nature Center, so we’re very optimistic that we’ll reach that goal,” he said.
The renovation won’t start until all the money is there.
“We’ll start when we have the full $3 million in pledges,” Litton said.
It’s possible some park money could eventually be used, but not $1 million worth.
“We can put park money towards it, but we want to see how much we can raise of the remaining million,” Litton said.
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Mill Creek MetroParks has received $500,000 from the Florence Simon Beecher & John D. Finnegan Foundations to support the renovation of Ford Nature Center.
The donation will be used to renovate the carriage house, which will serve as an education building and the hub of group tours. For the donation, the carriage house will be named the Beecher Finnegan Education Building.
“This building will serve as the gateway to learning about the natural wonders of the world for thousands of local school children each year. Its impact on not only the Ford Nature Center but the entire MetroParks will be felt for generations to come,” said MetroParks director of development Chris Litton in a release.
So far, a third of the $3 million cost for the renovation project has been raised. The Sand Hill Foundation of Menlo Park, Calif., will match donations made after Nov. 1, 2018, up to $1 million.
Ford Nature Center was donated to Mill Creek MetroParks in 1968 by Tom and Susan Ford, the children of the late Judge John W. Ford. The building, designed by architect Charles F. Owsley, briefly served as the park’s administrative office before being converted to Ford Nature Center in 1972.
Each year, more than 14,000 students visit the center, Litton said, to take part in its exhibits, programs, walking trails and special events.
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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The Ford Nature Center at Mill Creek MetroParks announces it has received a $500,000 contribution toward renovations.
The Florence Simon Beecher & John D. Finnegan Foundations combined to make the donation to the $3 million project.
This donation will directly benefit the renovation work on the carriage house which will serve as an education building, a central hub of all school-based and group tours of the Ford Nature Center upon completion.
The MetroParks Board of Park Commissioners has elected to name the completed structure “The Beecher Finnegan Education Building,” in the donor’s honor.
“Our grateful appreciation goes out to the Florence Simon Beecher & John D. Finnegan Foundations for their generous contribution to the new Education Building at the Ford Nature Center. This building will serve as the gateway to learning about the natural wonders of the world for thousands of local school children each year. Its impact on not only the Ford Nature Center but the entire MetroParks will be felt for generations to come,” says Chris Litton, Mill Creek MetroParks Director of Development.
The project has currently raised $1 million of the $3 million goal, and The Sand Hill Foundation of Menlo Park, California has offered a challenge grant which will match donations raised after November 1 up to $1 million.
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Mill Creek MetroParks invites guests to celebrate the holiday seasons at Fellows Riverside Gardens.
Volunteers set up 60 trees along with lights and decorations through the Davis Center.
This year’s theme, Frozen in Time, is a celebration of the garden’s 60th anniversary.
One woman said the event is enjoyable for the whole family.
“It’s fun to bring all the little cousins, so that they can see, you know, all the themes every year and it’s a good tradition,” said Mya Agee.
There’s also scavenger hunts and live music.
The activities are free to the public and will continue Tuesday through Sunday every week in December from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There is also Winter Nights on Saturdays, which includes extended hours until 7 p.m. and an outdoor light display.
For more information, call 330-740-7116.
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