Looking toward the future of protecting the environment and preserving the natural beauty of local parks, the Clark County Parks District (CCPD) is part of a fundraiser to support a collection of parks within the Miami Valley.
The local parks district is a member of the organization Partners for the Environment, which is a coalition of organizations throughout the Miami Valley that work together to protect the environment, says Carol Kennard, executive director of the CCPD.
"This was an idea from Partners for the Environment to do a big fundraising campaign that everybody could share in," she says. Donations to the Gifts That Grow campaign will be divided among all the parks in the coalition.
As far as the CCPD, donations will go toward any of the parks' natural resource projects, Kennard says. Learn more about making a donation here.
"It might help buy prairie seeds to help reestablish prairie areas. It might help buy native plants to promote growth in natural areas. It could go toward building a bridge or a boardwalk - pretty much anything that could help the natural environment thrive or help visitors enjoy the plants and animals in a safe manner," Kennard says.
In addition to the benefits donations could have for the parks, Kennard says the cross promotion of the parks through the coalition is a major benefit.
"We have been tagged quite a bit (on social media) because of the campaign, and we are sharing each other's links," she says. "It has helped raise a greater awareness about organizations in the area working together to help the environment."
She says the social media presence has also helped spread awareness of local parks to people in other areas of the Miami Valley who might want to come to visit Clark County’s parks and vice versa.
As the pandemic picked up pace in 2020, the parks were an outlet that individuals and families could continue to rely on - for space, for peace of mind and for being active, Kennard says.
“The biggest thing is that we were always open. When everything else was shutting down, the parks stayed open,” she says. “People could still come out here and walk the trails outside … we saw an increase in traffic at George Rogers Clark Park and Mad River Gorge. We saw so many people using the parks.”
And, the parks added virtual programming to keep visitors connected when in-person programming wasn’t available. Virtual options, including weekly kids crafts and virtual nature hikes through the parks are still ongoing, Kennard says.
“My hope is that people will continue to enjoy the parks now that they have discovered what’s right here in Clark County. We hope they’ll attend programs and volunteer to help with service work or programs,” Kennard says. “We’d love to have more people involved in the parks in whatever way they’d like to be.”