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.

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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, 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.

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Mill Creek MetroParks accepting applications for farm leases

Mill Creek MetroParks is accepting proposals for farming operations at the MetroParks Farm.

Proposals are due by noon Sept. 28. Copies of the required lease agreement forms can be acquired by contacting Aaron Young, executive director, at 330-702-3000 or

Submitted proposals must include the following:

  • A completed farm lease agreement; including proposed price per acre;
  • A copy of the required insurance certificates. (See lease agreement);
  • A copy of a current workers compensation certificate;
  • A completed statement of qualifications including farming education, experience, certifications, training and memberships;
  • A completed list of all farm equipment owned/leased by the submitting party;
  • A list of three references from property owners who have leased farming rights to the submitting party;
  • A list of all acreage to be farmed in addition to the MetroParks Farm during the same time period.

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