In 2015, I was contacted by a Girl Scout Troop leader on the east side who said multiple Girl Scout Troops were considering a big Earth Day focused Service Day(s) and she asked if Euclid Creek communities could use their help. After many months of planning, the event came together over Earth Day weekend and we had nearly 80 Girl Scouts from 12 East Side Troops participate in activities in parks and natural areas in Mayfield Heights, Richmond Heights and South Euclid.
On Friday, April 15, our first activity was installing a wildflower, pollinator garden and cleaning up two bioretention gardens at Greenwood Farm, a City-owned property on the East Branch of Euclid Creek in Richmond Heights. Girls ranging from Daisy level to Cadette participated. Three Troops (70075 and 71597) converted an area of turf grass into what will be a native wildflower meadow that will better collect and infiltrate stormwater from the surrounding turf grass and that will provide pollinators like butterflies and bees with meadow wildflowers for food. The girls layed down cardboard on top of the grass and then three inches of mulch to remove the grass below, and then wildflower seed and native plants were planted to grow over the turf. These plants have a much longer root system and are native to the region and provide habitat for wildlife and require less resources (mowing/watering) than traditional turf grass. We're excited to watch this first of its kind garden in the watershed get established!
The second group of girls from Troops 70644, 71597 and 70633 helped clean up and beautify two bioretention gardens at Greenwood Farm. These stormwater features were designed to collect, store and clean water running off of the farm house and barn before it enters Euclid Creek in large storm events (paid for through an Ohio EPA grant in 2012).
On Saturday, April 16, troops then participated in two cleanup events, one in South Euclid and one in Mayfield Heights. Girl Scouts from Troops 70120, 70776 and 70887 cleaned up a stormwater wetland in South Euclid call the Nine Mile Wetland. This area used to be a concrete stormwater basin and was naturalized into a series of wetland step pools in order to add water quality improvements to the stormwater flood control basin. 16 girls cleaned up the area and found trash ranging from plastics to a whole tire with the rim, and a propane tank. For some girls, this was there first experience working in a soggy marsh and one girl scout lost her boot in the deep soils - she was a real trooper throughout the cleanup. Other girls rescued plastic balls from a nursery school playground next to the wetland that had gotten lost in play over the fence - so they were excited to return these lost balls to the day care facility. Another exciting find for the girls was a coyote skull and bones from other wild animals showing that this wetland is truly a natural feature teaming with wildlife.
At the same time on Saturday morning, Girl Scouts from Troops 70637, 70814, 70453 and 70454 cleaned up trash at the Mayfield Heights City Park. The Service Director also purchased annual flowers for the girls to plant at the park to beautify a picnic shelter, so they really developed their green thumb during this activity!
These type of events are crucial in getting girls in touch with nature in celebration of Earth Day and is crucial in developing our future watershed stewards, so I can't thank Jennifer Ochi and Kenya Guess for their hard work coordinating the activities with all of the troops that participated.
Special thanks are in order for the City staff/volunteers who made these activities happen - Mayor Roche and Fred Cash in Richmond Heights; Jim Anderson and Patti Schnell in South Euclid; and Foe Fornaro in Mayfield Heights. Also, a huge thanks are in order for our Friends of Euclid Creek volunteers Madelon Watts and Christi Carlson for participating in the day as well.
We hope this will be an annual service day as we had an absolute blast with these enthusiatic girls who are the future of environmental stewardship in our region.