GUILFORD TWP. — About 50 county residents came to Medina County Park District’s Buffalo Creek Retreat on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the county’s recent recognition as a Community Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.
“So we accomplished our goal (of 400 backyards) at the end of September,” Linda Schneider, of the Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District, said during the event. “That is 360 homes, 13 schools, 20 farms and 7 common areas.”
Schneider said in a previous email that Medina County officially achieved its certification Sept. 20.
In addition to celebrating with ice cream and cake, the day included keynote speaker Denise Ellsworth of the Ohio State University Extension, who spoke about the importance of pollinators in a community. Seville Mayor Carol Carter and Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell each spoke about a project known as The Mayor’s Monarch Pledge and what each community did to encourage pollinator habitats.
Schneider said after achieving its initial goal by becoming the 115th Community Habitat in the nation, a new goal already is in place.
“The new goal is every year for the next three years we would like to add 100 more gardens,” she said. I know it is a lofty goal … but you can help with that.”
Schneider encouraged people who have constructed their own backyard habitat gardens to reach out to family and friends and explain why they are important. The gardens are certified by providing the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young.
“We also want to challenge the rest of Northeast Ohio and the different conservation districts and counties because Medina can’t do it alone,” Schneider said. “We need to build this corridor all the way from Canada to Mexico, so I’ll be talking to my counterparts in the soil and water world.”
Mickie Getz said she decided to construct a habitat garden at her Montville Township home after learning last July that the county only needed a handful more gardens to achieve certification.
“I’m just happy to help out,” Getz said. “I think it’s such a worthwhile cause, and it is neat to be connected with other people who feel the same way.”
Getz said she originally planted milkweed at her home about three years ago, and enjoys watching the monarch butterfly use it as a food source and a habitat.
“I actually had about 100 caterpillars that I raised from the eggs that were laid on the milkweed in my yard (this year),” she said.
Luisa Grant, of the National Wildlife Federation, presented Medina County Commissioner Bill Hutson with the county’s official certification.
“Research has shown that taking steps to certify properties is working, as more wildlife is showing up in certified properties,” Grant said.
Schneider said Medina County residents who created a habitat garden can have their stories preserved and documented by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
“The Smithsonian Institution is calling. Now that we have finished this, they want your garden stories,” She said. “The people who built their gardens for wildlife, they want not only pictures, but videos and your written stories.”