On Pinecones, Profs and Block Parties

I’ve been spending the last few weeks playing catchup, trying to add updates to my Lake Erie Shoreline Project and connect with people I meet along the way. Ever since the summer and early fall, I have been traveling quite a bit, participating in weekend workshops and meeting with scientists, horticulturalists, farmers and naturalists.

case1It is exciting to talk with all of them as I continue to build upon my program. So far, it has expanded to include a number of youth and young adults. Over the summer, I led a small workshop at the Case Western Reserve Squire Valleevue Farm with biology professor Deborah Harris and two of her undergraduate students. A month later, I presented a workshop to participants of the Mayor Frank G. Jackson Summer Youth Employment Program, in partnership with Youth Opportunities Unlimited. We all met at Kentucky Garden and mixed up a huge batch of compost, then experimented with some other ideas. I posted a link to my latest photo gallery if you want to learn more.

From there, it was onto a party with Amy Moniot and members of the Lorain-Fulton-Bailey Block Club. Residents from Siam Avenue in Ohio City decided to throw a potluck between West 36th and West 38th, and this year they wanted to provide something fun and educational.

The theme was “Everyone Brings Something to the Table.” I was joined by Denise DiSalvo, another volunteer who helps lead a variety of science projects at Near West Intergenerational School. Denise and her daughter showed everyone how to make peanut butter and seed pinecones for our birds and backyard squirrels. I also provided a quick science lesson on composting and the kids loved it — so much in fact, they were fighting over who got to mix the chicken poop and throw the sawdust into the compost bin.

These types of neighborhood events showcase the work of volunteers who want to engage kids and residents of our community. These kids couldn’t get enough of those pinecones and were excited to learn how compost and other things work.

Don’t think for a second that kids in the city don’t enjoy learning about science or math during their summer break or on the weekends, outside the classroom. Our experiments prove that they are willing to have fun while learning how to be better stewards of our environment. And you know what?

The peppers grown in zebra mussel shell compost even taste better!