Month: October 2023

05 Oct 2023
field trip of fourth graders exploring the creek at Greenacres Miami Township Clermont County

Discover Together – Fall 2023

field trip of fourth graders exploring the creek at Greenacres Miami Township Clermont County

Discover Together – Fall 2023

Back to Exploration: Field Trips Kick off Again

It has been a pleasure welcoming you and your students back to Greenacres. We have already hosted some wonderful groups this year and are looking forward to seeing many more of you. Space is still available, click here to register for your free field trip. If you have an upcoming field trip scheduled, please make sure you plan and book your transportation. As a reminder, for qualifying organizations, we offer a reimbursement program. Your group must meet the following criteria:

  • Be one of the following 501(c)(3) types: Public, private, community, or charter school or a recognized child welfare organization.
  • Your attending group receives Title I funding or 80% free/reduced lunch.
  • Group of children under the age of 18 with accompanying adults.
yellow school bus in archway

To learn more and apply for bus reimbursement, please visit this page. If you have any questions, reach out to our education coordinator, Bethany.

If you haven’t browsed our available programming lately, we encourage you to check it out. You can find a full list at Greenacres Field Trip Programming.

Meet Lori Dorn: Educator and Site Supervisor at Greenacres Miami Township - Clermont County

Greenacres has renamed our Water Quality Education Center to Greenacres Miami Township – Clermont County to better reflect the diverse programming offered at this facility. If you missed this update, you can learn more here. Our site supervisor, Lori Dorn, has been instrumental at this location for several years, helping it become a popular field trip destination for students and teachers alike. We asked Lori to share some insights about what she enjoys most about working here.

Q: How long have you been an educator at Miami Township Clermont County?

A: I began my career as a classroom teacher but working at Greenacres allows me to be outside and share my love of the natural world with students. I have been with Greenacres since 2016 when the Miami Township Clermont County building first opened its doors for programs.  I have watched the programs and attendance grow as the years go by.

Q: What do you love about this education site?

A: Part of what I love most about what happens here at Miami Township Clermont County is that as educators we have a hand in creating educational assets for programming.  We take our natural space and work to make education “wow” moments happen.

Q: What do you want first-time visitors to know before coming for a field trip?

A: We have access to two creeks as well as 70 acres of forested areas. We love to give students the opportunity to see nature up close, including macroinvertebrates in the water and animals and insects in the forest. My favorite part of teaching outdoors is taking a group who may be a bit hesitant about walking in the forest at first but then seeing them exploring and enjoying nature by the end of their time.

Q: What are some of your favorite programs that are offered at Miami Township – Clermont County?

A: I love rocks and the stories they tell us about our landscape.  Programs that relate to geology, fossils, and soil are some of my favorite programs because we can see many in the creeks and landscapes around our Miami Township site.

Program Highlights

Everyone has a favorite Greenacres’ field trip, but the opportunities for students to explore is truly broad. As the seasons change, so does our offering of educational adventures. Here are some of our top picks we enjoy in the fall.

Grades K-3 – All About Birds

  • All About Birds – Birds are perhaps the easiest wildlife to observe. Birds have many unique adaptations, which allow them to be found in many different habitats. We will use our observation skills to find birds of all shapes, sizes, and colors as we hike around Greenacres.

    Grade 4 – Weathering and Erosion

    • Weathering and Erosion – In Ohio, our rivers and streams tell a story. Changes in the landscape are caused by weathering of rock and soil, and by transportation and deposition of sediments. Students will explore the process of erosion and look for signs of weathering here at Greenacres.

      Grades 4-8 – Maps and Topography

      • Maps and Topography – Maps come in all shapes and sizes and they are useful in many different ways. Students will explore how land surfaces are represented on different styles of flat and topographic maps as well as how different maps are used.

      Grades 9-12 – Water Quality

      • Water Quality The health of a stream can be assessed in several different ways.  Students will perform chemical, physical, and biological studies of a local Greenacres stream, and make conclusions about water quality and impacts of human activity on surface waters.
      02 Oct 2023
      Summer flowers in tall grass

      Around Greenacres – Summer 2023

      Summer flowers in tall grass

      Around Greenacres - Summer 2023

      Summer Turkey Production

      June marked a first at Greenacres with turkeys being added to our pastures before July. They have enriched our summer programming, allowing our educators to integrate them into their curriculum. The experience of witnessing a working farm and learning about the turkeys’ impact on soil health has been great for visitors. Early turkeys also allow us to expand our Thanksgiving offerings to include turkey breasts since we can work with our processors earlier, allowing them time to process this batch before the holiday rush.

      Broad-breasted bronze turkeys on pasture, surrounded by tall trees and with field trip class in the background

      “It’s been great having this batch of turkeys out on pasture earlier than usual. Thanks to the nutritious forage they’re getting in the field, they’ve been growing fast.

      -Chris Glassmeyer, Livestock Coordinator

      Garden Apprentice Plots

      Every spring, our garden team welcomes two apprentices for a two-year immersive program. During the first year, apprentices focus on learning our garden production methods. Once they have developed these skills, they are encouraged to develop their own projects, be it cut flowers, vegetables, or high-yield crops, and are given a dedicated plot to experiment on. While we support and continue their education, we allow room for self-driven learning through trial-and-error.

      This year, second-year apprentices Sam Placke and Abby McGuire have been applying their learned skills. Sam has delved into vegetable production, exploring unique edible plants, while Abby is expanding her horizons in cut flower production. Their dedication is blossoming into success, evident from Abby’s floral creations and Sam’s vegetables enriching our Farmstore’s offerings.

      garden apprentice tending to their garden plots

      Equine Lessons, Pony Club, & First Responders

      The equine department had an eventful summer, hosting diverse camps, Pony Club events, and Exploring With Grace programs. Both seasoned and new riders benefited from weekday camps, honing skills on and off the saddle. At the Pony Club Rally, one of our riders, alongside school horse Cary, clinched a top ten spot in a field of over 20 riders! We also facilitated four Exploring With Grace sessions, where students learned horse grooming, leading, and enjoyed a bareback obstacle course ride. Beyond these, Greenacres Equine Center held nine First Responder trainings for local emergency personnel, covering equine behavior and handling for equine emergencies. As we reminisce on the enriching summer of 2023, anticipation builds for the 2024 season! Our center, catering to riders aged 8-18, focuses on English riding with an emphasis on Eventing. Due to overwhelming demand, our waitlist is momentarily closed as we accommodate existing applicants.

      School Horse Spotlight

      As an appaloosa, Prim is one of our more unique colored school horses and one of the few mares (female horse) in the barn! She adores being loved on and is often the favorite of students and visitors because of her sweet personality. Prim is an exceptionally brave horse and enjoys schooling over the cross-country fences in our jump field. She and her Pony Club rider went to their first horse trial together this spring and had a blast!

      Co-composted Biochar Research Project

      Have you ever wondered why fertile soil tends to be darker in color? Soil fertility is largely attributed to soil organic matter, and higher levels of soil organic matter usually correspond to higher water and nutrient holding capacity as well as darker color. Many people think of soil organic matter as primarily coming from soil microbes decomposing biomass and root exudates, but historically a significant portion of soil organic matter in grassland ecosystems came directly from fire—pyrogenic carbon. Some of the most fertile soils in the Midwest experienced repetitive fire in the natural ecology of tallgrass prairie ecosystems, but 3-5% of the total biomass in a prairie fire would burn incompletely and leave a “char” residue on the soil surface. Nutrients released as a result of the fire generated highly palatable forage that was preferentially grazed by bison in a phenomenon known as “pyric herbivory.” In short, repeated applications of pyrogenic carbon and bison manure over hundreds to thousands of years created highly fertile soils that persist to this day, and we are trying to emulate this process in our integrated crop-livestock system known as the Ley Field. However, instead of using fire and herds of bison, we are using compost and a material called “biochar.”

      Biochar is a very stable form of carbon that is a useful byproduct of heating biomass to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, and it is nearly identical in form and function to pyrogenic carbon. Adding biochar at the beginning of the composting process (co-composting) offers mutual benefits to both biochar and compost during composting, and co-composted biochar applications emulate the applications of pyrogenic carbon and bison manure in historic tallgrass prairies. Three types of compost are being assessed in a four-year rotation of vegetables and grazed cover crops: regular compost, compost with woody biochar, and compost with poultry litter biochar. The Research team is collecting data on crop production, crop quality, soil health, and greenhouse gas emissions to compare the various types of compost on a systems level. Ultimately, we will learn if the tallgrass prairie paradigm for generating soil fertility can be adopted in an integrated crop-livestock system to simultaneously improve crop production and soil health.

      garden plots with metal rings for biochar experiment