Children’s garden vision grows

The seeds that have been planted to redevelop a large children’s garden in one of Mill Creek MetroParks’ most popular destinations are beginning to bear ripe fruit — one donor at a time.

“The board and members of Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens were captivated by the plans for transforming the northwest corner of Fellows Riverside Gardens into a true destination spot for children and families,” Denise Stewart, Friends’ president, said.

To bring such a goal closer to reality, Stewart’s organization has pledged about $341,000 toward the 1.5-acre project, estimated at $3.4 million. The monetary effort began some years ago with a $200,000 pledge for naming rights for one of the five gardens within the larger project that, with accrued interest, has grown to $241,000 before the organization’s board raised an additional $100,000, she noted.

“I’m very excited to have our organization designated in the naming of one of our gardens. It will be a beauty spot for all to enjoy,” said Stewart, who also teaches a course on human trafficking at Youngstown State University.

The Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens is among the 112 donors who, collectively, have raised slightly more than $1 million for the effort, Chris Litton, the park’s development director, noted.

Fort Collins, Colorado-based Russell + Mills Studios is handling the design and architectural aspects of the expansive and nearly rectangular reshaped children’s garden, which will stretch from near Mahoning and McKinley avenues to the Fellows Riverside Gardens’ parking lot next to the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center. The project also will include security fencing, along with a stone wall with iron gates.

Another prominent donor has been the Youngstown Foundation, which, last year, pledged around $250,000 for the garden’s second phase, Litton said.

Within the larger space, for which work began in early 2022, will be six individual component units: sensory, wonder room, harvest, forest and stream gardens for children and adults to enjoy, each with its unique characteristics, he noted.

Also in the mix will be a hummock lawn in the center of the space that will emulate glacial formations with small glacial hills and cairns.

The six gardens’ specific features will include areas for children to climb and explore, raise plant-based foods, play in a small meandering stream, walk along wooden boardwalks and tree platforms and climb mounds of grass, Litton said.

The redevelopment also will represent a vast improvement to the original garden that was built in the early 1980s as an educational resource for FRG. The current work also entailed removing old tires and other outdated apparatus that had been installed in that area, he added.

“At the end of the day, kids deserve to have something like this,” Litton said.

Also on the acreage is the Margaret Cushwa Outdoor Educational Building, a 680-square-foot classroom that opened in November 2022 and served as the garden project’s first phase. Two of its sides have large sliding-glass doors that open and will face the large garden.

The building was named in honor of the late Cushwa, who died in 1995 and was a former Mill Creek Park commissioner. She and her family also were among the city’s leading industrialists.

Stewart said that she also hopes the large children’s garden will capture the spirit and vision of Elizabeth A. Fellows, an 1878 graduate of The Rayen School who willed the land and funds to Mill Creek MetroParks to build and maintain the free public botanical gardens named after her.

“We envision a beautiful and inspiring children’s garden that adds to the splendor that Elizabeth Fellows envisioned in her will ‘to create a beauty spot to be enjoyed by all,’” Stewart added.

To make a donation, go to or Contributions to the project also can be made to the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation by calling Litton at 330-718-2699.

Read the original article at the Tribune Chronicle.

The little insect that’s bugging local park officials

Right now, there’s a war on an invasive species that’s happening right under your nose. You probably don’t even notice it, but it’s really bugging officials with the Mill Creek Metroparks.

Sometimes the biggest problems come from the smallest of sources.

“You would need a microscrope to really look at them. So it’s a very, very small insect,” said Nick Derico, Mill Creek Park natural resource manager.

Since 2020, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid has been calling the Mill Creek MetroParks home. The only problem is wildlife officials don’t want it taking up residence.

“It feeds on the hemlock trees, and over time it can cause pretty significant decline or even death in the tree,” Derico said.

Native to Asia, the bug is a nuisance, attacking North American Hemlocks since it was first introduced back in the 1950s.

“How it got here to the MetroParks, hard to say,” Derico said. “It could’ve came in on an ornamental tree or carried by birds.”

Park officials are fighting back against the insect with insecticides, tagging trees that have been treated. But it takes about 18 months before they start seeing any results.

The pest appears like a small wool bundle, not much bigger than the size of a pinhead. Left untreated, infested trees can die within four to 10 years.

“The hemlocks play a super important role in the ecosystem,” Derico said. “They’re a keystone species. … They’re vital. They create very unique habitats, especially in these creekside habitats.”

Wildlife officials say they keep finding new populations every year and are treating the outbreaks as they find them.

“Once treated, the chemical will stay active in the tree for about seven years,” Derico said. “The unfortunate reality is we probably won’t be able to save every tree.”

Read the original article at WKBN.

‘Everything Eclipse’ Lecture at MetroParks Farm

Mill Creek MetroParks will present “Everything Eclipse with Planetarium Engineer Curt Spivey” at 1 p.m. March 23.

The hourlong lecture will take place in McMahon Hall on the MetroParks Farm, 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Road.

Participants will learn about the April 8 solar eclipse, which will be visible throughout northeastern Ohio. Tips will include where to go to experience totality, how to safely view the eclipse and more.

Eclipse glasses will be provided while supplies last. Registration is required. The deadline to register is March 22. Registration can be done online or by calling 330 740 7107, ext 129. The fee is $3.

To register online, click HERE.

Here’s a look at some other eclipse-related programming:

TV Documentary: The April 3 episode of “Nova” will shine a light on the total solar eclipse that will be visible in northeastern Ohio on April 8. The one-hour documentary will air at 8 p.m.

The April 8 eclipse will sweep across the U.S. from Texas to Maine and will be the last total solar eclipse until 2044.

The extraordinary astronomical event will plunge locations in the path of totality into darkness for more than four minutes in some places – nearly twice as long as the last American eclipse in 2017.

The episode will offer instructions on how to watch an eclipse safely and follow scientists as they work to unlock secrets of the sun – from why its atmosphere is hundreds of times hotter than its surface to what causes solar storms and how we might one day predict them.

Pink Floyd: The “Darkside of the Moon – Solar Eclipse Show” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at Kent Stage, 175 E. Main St., Kent. Tickets range from $30 to $24 and can be purchased HERE.