Wild Ones annual environmental awards recognize outstanding college students whose work actively support the Wild
Ones mission through natural area restoration, research, education, and native plant conservation in gardens and landscapes. Four students were presented the awards for 2015 by the Oak Openings Region chapter president, Hal Mann.
Scholarship selection: Wild Ones partner agencies, such as universities or park districts nominate an exemplary undergraduate or graduate student who is actively engaged in caring for the environment. The chapter board selects scholarship recipients. To celebrate the students’ accomplishments, nominators and scholarship winners were guests at a special dinner. One of the nominators, Erika Buri, Executive Director of the Olander Park System described the recipients as “AWESOME!”
“It was an exciting presentation for all attending. Nominators beamed with pride for their students, Wild Ones members shared in the glow of good spirit, and the recipients were quite energized by their recognition,” observed past-president Denise Gehring. “Originating here, this award program has become the model for scholarship awards for the other 49 Wild Ones chapters nationally.”
A positive result of the scholarship is that winners become connected regionally and nationally to the Wild Ones environmental network with greater access to professional development, field work, conferences, writing opportunities, and stewardship experiences. Direct benefits locally include reducing “brain-drain” with dedicated participation by a younger demographic, chapter growth, and enhanced environmental collaboration.
2015 Wild Ones Scholarship Winners:
Paige Arnold, Bowling Green State University
Nominated by Dr. Helen Michaels, Bowling Green State University; award presented by Penny Wagner, Metroparks
Paige is currently in the first year of her Master’s program at BGSU in Ecology and Conservation Biology. She is passionate about conservation and worked part-time for many years as a veterinary technician. As an undergraduate, Paige studied pollination ecology of Wild Lupine, and the federally endangered White Lady Slipper Orchid. She volunteered on campus prairie restoration projects and completed her BS at BGSU in May 2013. She was then employed by the Metroparks of the Toledo Area where she worked on the land management crew and at the Blue Creek Native Seed Nursery. Paige is pursuing a career in ecological restoration and is currently developing her graduate thesis research on plant-butterfly interactions including nectar chemistry and pollinators.
Maureen Bogdanski, University of Toledo
Nominated by Erika Buri, The Olander Park System (TOPS)
Maureen Bogdanski, a senior at the University of Toledo, is pursuing a double major in Environmental Science and Economics with a concentration in Environmental Economics. She is a recipient of both the C.Z. Wolfe Scholarship from the Department of Environmental Science, and the Shapiro Scholarship from the Department of Economics. She is currently employed for her second year with The Olander Park System on the conservation crew. In 2014, she was promoted as the leader of a new youth program for TOPS, the Olander Conservation Crew. This program engages 7th and 8th graders in restoration activities at TOPS, while also introducing them to local ecosystems with presentations from scientists and conservationists in NW Ohio. Fifteen youth participated in the program this year, with rave reviews from parents.
She has also developed the Northern Bobwhite Survey Protocol to determine whether or not there are quail populations established at Sylvan Prairie Park as her departmental honors project. In addition, she is working on an independent study project in the Department of Economics to determine the value of reintroduction of quail to Sylvan Prairie Park.
Kelly Leffler, Bowling Green State University
Nominated by Cinda Stutzman, Bowing Green City Parks
Kelly has been volunteering for BG Parks since September of 2013 and has been assisting with native seed collecting and processing, invasive species removal and holiday programs. She is majoring in Biology, with a minor in Environmental Science at BGSU and will be graduating this coming May. Kelly completed an animal husbandry internship in the education animal center at the Toledo Zoo last spring, where she learned how to care for and conduct presentations with live animals.
This past summer, she worked for the Toledo Metroparks as an education program presenter where she interpreted history on the canal boat at Providence Metropark. At that time, she became nationally certified as an interpretive guide. When she is at home in Aurora, she volunteers for the Geauga County Park District. She likes to stay active and has played club soccer for four years at BGSU and is a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. Her long-term goal is to be a park naturalist.
Brittani Furlong, University of Toledo
Nominated by Dr. Todd Crail, University of Toledo
Brittani Furlong is a “hometown gal” from Maumee, OH. After attended Maumee H.S, she graduated with a BS from the University of Toledo, Department of Environmental Science. Because of her outstanding environmental work, she was asked to stay on to pursue a MS at UT in the same department. Brittani has led volunteer frog monitoring at Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve for the last two years, and helped empower a volunteer work force of 50 people this past summer to do citizen science. This past semester, Brittani helped tend the Classroom Garden, and has worked with both food and pollinator plants. She has an exploring interest in all things natural in the Toledo area. To quote her: “I never thought I would ever want to see this town again after graduation, but now I couldn’t imagine leaving.”