Showcasing Kent, Ohio and the surrounding
Northeastern Ohio Region.

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Happy new year and welcome to a new decade! I have been reflecting this past week on how grateful I am to be part of the Portage Park District as we enter this decade with enthusiasm and 2020 vision. The mission of the Portage Park District is to conserve Portage County’s natural heritage and provide opportunities for its appreciation and enjoyment.  As you’ll see below, there are plenty of plans and projects happening in your parks. Our staff is committed to meeting our expectation of excellence, maintaining your trust, connecting people to the wonder of our local natural areas, and evaluating and adjusting to meet the needs of the public. I am thrilled to share some of our 2020 program plans with you! The most current program information can be found on our website at portageparkdistrict.org.

New programs
I am looking forward to serving my first winter and spring seasons with the park. Among traditional nature education programs and guided hikes, we have some exciting new initiatives and program series planned. I hope you will be as motivated as I am to participate in Owlbert’s owlet adventures for our younger participants, citizen science data collection for butterfly and insect enthusiasts, a birding club to document our feathered residents in our parks, or a photography series to learn and enjoy capturing those special nature moments. Maybe it’s my soil & water conservation background, but I am extra excited about our 2020 rain garden demonstration project and workshop series! This hands-on project is funded by the Ohio Environmental Education Fund and will teach you how to plan and plant your very own functional rain garden to improve local water quality.

Park Rx
By now you have likely heard about or participated in our Park Rx program. It is a prescription for health to help you get healthy and stay healthy while enjoying our Portage Parks. Consider taking your next step to health by registering for our Park Rx Winter Series. The classes are located inside and focus on nutrition, strength and meditation. We will be offering seasonal Park Rx series to support your health goals and get you outside when the weather breaks so that you can take advantage of the mental and physical benefits of fresh air and natural surroundings.

Wild Hikes Challenge
The Wild Hikes Challenge is in it’s thirteenth year and we have seen steady participation growth and anticipate a surge in hikers this year. Hike just 8 of the challenge hikes and you can earn your hiking staff (1st-timers) and your Year of the Owl badge (our mascot, Owlbert, is delighted about this year’s theme).

We look forward to listening to your needs with the precision of specialized owl ears, adjusting our course as needed with the ease of an owl in silent flight, and planning our conservation, education and recreation programs with 2020 vision! My vision for our park education program is to connect you to our shared natural world. It’s valuable to remember that we are all on this earthly ride together and that  everything is connected.

Thank you for joining me on this journey and thank you for supporting and enjoying YOUR Portage Park District!

Park improvements
Our education and outreach programs are enhanced and supported by safe, clean facilities and well-maintained parks. You will notice some key park enhancements as you visit throughout the year. Our park operations and natural areas staff will be moving into a renovated Operations Center on Nicodemus Road this year, enabling all the park equipment and supplies to be stored in a central location. Progress continues on the beautiful new gazebo at Towner’s Woods. A western expansion of the Headwaters Trail is planned. We are all looking forward to the opening of the beautiful Trail Lake Park on Ravenna Road late this year. Watch our website for more park property news!