Friday, October 26, 2012

Thank you, Erica!

Recently, the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District hosted a local Meadowbrook HS student in their volunteer training program.  Erica Showalter, daughter of Robert Showalter and Rachel Reid of Pleasant City, contacted our office to ask if she could volunteer in order to learn more about the district and what working in this field might be like.  Erica plans to attend Hocking Technical College after she graduates, to pursue a career in natural resources. 

Over a 2 month period, Erica spent 2 half-days a week with the district staff.  During this time, she was able to participate in a wide variety of the day to day tasks.  One day, she walked  in Moore Memorial Woods with the ODNR service forester Jeremy Scherf and Clum Forestry Consultants as they marked trees for harvest.  She was able to hear the discussion that went on as each tree was evaluated; whether it was ready for harvest, or needed more time to mature and increase in value, or if it was damaged or diseased and needed to be removed from the timber stand. 

The next day, she went out with the district’s wildlife specialist, Joe Lehman, on a deer damage complaint.  She got to see the damage to a planted field firsthand, and learned how Joe decides if the damage is caused by deer browsing, and if so, whether the damage qualifies for a deer control permit to be issued by the state Division of Wildlife. 

On another day, she went out on a farm visit with district technician Van Slack.  The landowner needed to put in a stream crossing to get farm equipment cross a larger stream on his property, and wanted to know the correct way to install it so that the streambed and banks would not be damaged, and so that the crossing would hold and remain usable over a long period of time.  Erica was involved in the discussion of where and how the crossing should be built, and also in the process of discerning whether a permit would be needed from the Army Corp of Engineers, due to the size of the stream and the amount of bank that would be disturbed. 

Erica also helped deliver the district’s brillion seeder to a landowner who was renting the equipment in order to plant a cover crop to protect his field from soil erosion over the winter.  She was able to see how the equipment was calibrated in order to assure a successful seeding. 

She accompanied Joe and Van on three different calls; a complaint of possible soil erosion and water runoff from a logging site; a water quality concern in a landowner’s stream; and checking a logging site at the request of a landowner who wanted to be sure their planned logging roads and log landing would not cause any erosion concerns during and after the timber harvest. 

Erica also assisted in educational programs.  During the Paul Bunyan Show, the district had a new trailer for the public to go through and learn about water quality.  She helped Joe net several water dwelling insects that represent poor or good water quality, collectively known as "benthic bugs", which were displayed in the water quality trailer.
Her biggest project was to plan and execute an educational program of her own.  She chose a Fall Tree ID walk on the Great Guernsey Trail.  She set the date and time, wrote a news article, designed a flyer, and made an inventory of the trees along the section of trail to be walked so that she would be able to learn how to identify the tree and interesting things about the species to share with the people who attended the hike.   The hike was held on October 20th, and the people who attended really seemed to enjoy the walk and were interested learning about the trees and the wildlife that was spotted along the trail. 

Erica attended the recent Guernsey SWCD annual meeting and election, where she was honored for her volunteerism, and received a thank you gift from the district.  

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