The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) has announced its 2022 Annual Awards of Excellence winners. Mill Creek MetroParks’ Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project placed second in the Capital Improvement – $2.5 Million and Up category of the competition. The awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio. “Parks and recreation professionals throughout Ohio work every day to improve the quality of life of the people they serve,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward. “This effort is a shining example of that kind of work, and we are pleased to be able to present this award.”
The redevelopment project’s main objective, to better serve nature education needs of the community, was reached through improving, upgrading, and expanding the facility’s function, all while maintaining its historical and physical presence. Reconfiguration of interior spaces was needed to enhance and expand public programming with new and improved interpretive and interactive exhibits, interchangeable displays, and new wayfinding signage. Improved accessibility was also a prominent change. The grounds of the Ford Nature Center now strengthen the critical educational and recreational link between Mill Creek Park and the surrounding neighborhood. The connections between nature and humankind are on display both throughout the exterior and interior spaces of the Center. A new rooftop garden was installed above the new basement exhibit hall. A new wildflower meadow incorporating over two dozen native forbs and grasses can be viewed from numerous perspectives. Additionally, the formal landscape incorporated native plant species throughout all of the beds including the Ohio woodland garden and bird viewing area.
“We are honored to be recognized for this capital improvement project and the vision of bringing enhanced nature education to the community while maintaining the historical and physical presence of the Ford Nature Center,” says Aaron Young, Executive Director. “With the redevelopment project completed, we are looking to put the finishing touches on the new exhibits and unveiling them to the public very soon.”
The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on January 31, 2023 in Sandusky, Ohio.