The Great Parks Nature Center at The Summit is receiving a grant from Ohio EPA to jump-start its educational programming. The center in Roselawn was established in 2019 to provide environmental education and nature programming.
The two-year, $41,600 Ohio EPA Environmental Education Fund Grant will fund several programs. Sarah Kent, outreach manager for Great Parks Nature Center at The Summit, is most excited about a farm-to-table program. It involves creating a garden at the center and teaching children how to grow vegetables year round.
"They'll actually get to taste things from the garden," she says. "A lot of people don't know that you can garden year-round in Ohio. Even in the snow, there's still things that will survive."
Her goal is to give kids the skills to create and grow their own food, which they can then use to create their own gardens at home. It's not just gardening either. Lessons will include other skills, like composting, which they can share with their families.
"They can have a little worm bin in their kitchens or maybe they could have a porch garden and grow tomatoes out of containers. We're trying to teach tangible ways to grow your own food and experience nature, and have it spread throughout the community as something that people can value and find value in and be proud of."
Specifically, Great Parks says the grant's expected to help the park district reach up to 900 elementary-age students with grade-specific lessons in science and social studies. "Using guided, hands-on activities with live creatures, native plants and other ecosystem representations, children will explore actual habitats using specialized, scientific tools," Great Parks states in a release about the funding.
The Summit nature center has an indoor space at New Prospect Baptist Church and works in collaboration with the congregation. It offers crafts, nature-themed activities, and live animal experiences for kids and adults.
It also is leasing about six acres of neighboring forest where Kent says they plan to build trails and teach survival skills. It also provides access to the outdoors in an urban forest, rather than having to travel to a park outside Roselawn and Bond Hill.
The center is hosting summer and after-school programs for kids, will work with schools on field trips, and provide in-school programming, too.
"The overall goal is to get people - not just kids - to get access to the outdoors," Kent says. "A lot of people don't think that you can access the outdoors in such an environment where it's mostly city. There's not an actual park in Roselawn and it's also a food desert. So, people learning that they can have food that grows there and they can have access to the outdoors is such a blessing."
Kent's personal goal is to make sure everyone in Roselawn and Bond Hill know the center exists and to get people involved in some way. To that end, she says a community festival is planned for Aug. 28.
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