Friends of the Little Miami State Park
If you’ve recently enjoyed the Little Miami Scenic Trail and admired the beautiful stretch of clear, paved path, you have this group to thank for the pristine condition of your surroundings. “We’re all volunteers, we’re nonprofit, and our goal is to maintain and preserve the 50 miles of the Little Miami State Park,” FLMSP Treasurer Becky Retzer perfectly sums up the nonprofit’s mission statement.
Being dedicated to preservation and safety, that includes the removal of non-native species and creating space to bring back local pollinators and native growth. “Part of the goal is planting lots of larger grass areas, putting prairies in for native pollinators, so that there’s less mowing.” But they don’t stop there—when a tree falls, FLMSP are quick to pull out their chainsaws to remove it from the trail. “We aren’t allowed to remove the wood, because it needs to stay where it falls to help preserve the ecosystem.”
“It’s a unique park in that it’s 50 miles long, but narrow— just 30 feet,” Becky says of the Little Miami State Park. “And with safety being our primary goal, we encourage everyone to be aware of their surroundings.”
Loveland Beautification Committee
From contests for the public to plant days in both spring and fall, this committee works tirelessly to keep historic Loveland looking sharp all year round. “There are planters all along downtown Loveland—we fill those and make them look good. And we try to do that in a way that is the most plant-friendly,” says Shanda Gentry, LBC’s Vice Chair. The committee dabbles in all kinds of flowers and trees to see what looks best and lasts longest. “For the last four years, we’ve planted trees in the planters for the fall through winter season, and then Public Works removes them and they’re planted in parks around the city.” The committee doesn’t want to waste greenery by planting things that won’t last, and they work hard to keep everything looking, well, beautiful by decorating around the plants, even during the winter season.
Full planting days happen once around Mother’s Day, and again in the fall. The committee is 100% volunteer-based, welcoming anyone and everyone who wants to get their hands dirty.
The Roaming Naturalist
To Jana Marshall, owner and founder, there’s nothing negative about the outdoors. “We don’t say ‘ew,’ or ‘yuck,’ we say ‘interesting’!” And that’s exactly what Jana is out to prove to children and adults alike—nature is fascinating. Along with her trusty companion Minny (a vintage 1970 VW bus with tons of personality), Jana uses the outdoors as her classroom. “Our mission is to inspire and empower youth to explore the natural world, and to connect families with nature through hands-on and unique learning experiences.”
A naturalist through-and-through, Jana says she’s always been the kind of kid who was outside until dark, and has always wanted to pursue a career in the natural world. Now, she provides programs to school-aged kids through after-school programs, works with scouts to complete badge requirements in their local parks, and creates fun birthday experiences that are educational and unforgettable. “Every kid should be able to experience the outdoors,” Jana insists, and through her programming, she’s giving plenty of kids that opportunity.
It’s not just about the littles, though. “Kids pass their excitement to their parents—they come home and tell stories that make the adults want to go outside and learn more,” Jana explains. The Roaming Naturalist has opportunities for those inspired adults. From a Scenic Night Hikes Series to a year-round book club with monthly meetups, there are plenty of opportunities for people of all ages to learn with Jana.
Love Our Land
Did you know that mushrooms are a sign of a healthy environment? Or that in the past 50 years, we’ve lost about 30 million native songbirds? Well, this educational nonprofit is here to teach you all the things you might not know about your local green space, and make Loveland more environmentally minded—one nature walk at a time.
Owned by Mike Meldon and Doug Gilbert, Love our Land started in February of 2022. “I’m not a trained environmentalist,” Mike humbly admits. “I’m a teacher who fell into this position. I would walk through the woods and think ‘I’m so lucky to live next to this green space,’ and then I met Doug Gilbert, an ecologist and full-time environmental consultant, and he opened up my eyes to the fact that not all green is equal.” What does that mean? “Yes, it’s green space, but non-native invasive species kill native plants that should support the local ecological food chain—hence a loss of bees, butterflies and other life.”
“Our ultimate goal is based on this idea of the homegrown national forest,” Mike states of their mission. To get native species thriving again, oust the invasive plants in our backyards, and bring back the variety of life that once thrived here. It can’t just be a patchwork effort with miles between native plant sanctuaries either—private landowners are key to bringing back our native plant species and allowing them to grow rampant again. Love Our Land is here to educate you on how to create that native plant haven right in your yard. Mike and Doug offer nature walks, events and talks, and Land Stewardship classes. And if you become a member, discounts and member meetings are available as well. If you’re looking for resources on what to plant to bring back our native pollinators and create your homegrown national forest, this is the group to turn to for plenty of guides!
“It’s not about me, really, it’s about reaching more people—encouraging more people to go outside and be curious and understand that we’re all connected, and we can coexist.” - The Roaming Naturalist