Monday, October 01, 2007


Rural Action Hosts Invasive Plant Management Trainings

On Oct. 12 and 13, the Rural Action Sustainable Forestry and Sustainable Agriculture Programs will host Invasive Plant Management Trainings. The trainings will cover identification, control, and other issues related to the impact of invasive plant species affecting Ohio’s ecology. Invasive plant species are classified as vegetation that has been intentionally or unintentionally introduced into a new environment and has begun to spread rapidly, impacting the local environment. Tree of Heaven, Garlic Mustard and Japanese Stilt Grass are examples of invasive plant species.

The Oct. 12 training will be held at the Wayne National Forest Athens District Headquarters conference room from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be geared toward Natural Resource Professionals. Speakers will include: Dr. Brian McCarthy of the Ohio University Department of Environmental and Plant Biology; Ann Bonner, State Urban Forester; Rory Lewandowski of Ohio State University Extension; Cheryl Coon, Botanist for the Wayne National Forest; and Doug Albaugh from Friends of the Lower Muskingum. Topics will include Tree of Heaven control and current research, controlling invasive plants with livestock, and information on Poison Hemlock.

The Oct. 13 training, featuring many of the same speakers but geared toward landowners, will be held at the Federal Valley Resource Center Auditorium in Stewart, Ohio from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Continuing Education Units will be available for both trainings. These trainings are partially funded through the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program of the USDA. For more information, contact Tom Redfern, 740-742-4401.

Faces of Invasives

Did you know that of the 3,000 plant species growing in Ohio, about 25%, or 700 species, are non-native? It is easy to see that this large number of invasive plant species can displace native species and reduce biodiversity. In fact, over $35 billion is spent annually in the United States to control or remove invasives.

Identification is a key component of invasive plant management, and one of the first steps citizens can take to help control the spread of non-native species. Part of the Invasive Plant Management Trainings will focus on familiarizing participants with some of the most common species affecting Ohio’s ecology. Here is a sampling of some of the information that will be provided.

This rapidly growing tree is native to Asia and grows rapidly, sometimes reaching a height of 80 ft, with bark that is brownish-gray. It is tolerant of poor soil conditions, and can thrive in both urban and natural areas, but cannot grow in shaded areas. When identifying Tree-of-Heaven, make sure not to confuse it with native trees such as walnut and sumac.

Japanese Stilt Grass
This leafy plant poses a threat to native understory vegetation, and can grow in full sunlight or shade. It has green, purple or brown stems that can be up to four feet long with sheathing leaves. The leaves are pale green and are usually 2-4 inches long.

Bush Honeysuckle
These deciduous shrubs can be anywhere from 6-15 feet tall. They are most commonly found in the understory of woodlands. They have a hollow stem, which can be used to distinguish them from native honeysuckle species. In contrast to native honeysuckle, which have yellow to red flowers, these invasives may have yellow to dark- red berries.

Rural Action Volunteers Participate in Girl Power! Event at Trimble Elementary

On Friday, September 21, four Rural Action AmeriCrops*Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) members participated in the Trimble Schools Girl Power! Lock-In. More than 80 girls from ages 9-13 participated in the event. Girl Power! is a national public education program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote self-confidence in young girls and help them make the most of their lives.

Trimble Elementary School Social Worker Kerri Shaw organized the event with the help of many volunteers from the community, including Trimble Local Schools and Athens County Children’s Services. The event included workshops on everything from healthy eating to self-defense, a dance party, and a giant sleepover in the school gymnasium.

Rural Action AmeriCorps*VISTAs Tori Patterson, Liz Bonny, Katie Durham, and Kelsey McCoy led an arts and crafts workshop entitled “Powerful Self Portraits.” To create their life-size portrait, each girl lay down on a sheet of paper and the volunteers traced their outlines. Then, the girls were asked to reflect on their talents, passions, and dreams, and wrote words to describe themselves on the outlines. Finally, the girls enjoyed decorating their “inner self-portraits” with glitter, feathers, markers, tissue paper, and more. “The girls were wonderful and very polite. They were so creative while reflecting upon their inner-selves. It was inspiring,” said Katie Durham. View the slideshow below to see pictures of the girls' portraits.

Last Benefit Concert This Weekend: Singer-Songwriter Showcase

If you had fun at the first concert in our Fall Benefit Show Series, you’ll have a blast at the next show this Friday (October 5). But if our September show at the Union didn’t strike your fancy (or if metal isn’t really your scene), the next show will feature a totally different sound. It will be at the Casa Cantina in Athens. This Singer-Songwriter Showcase will feature many of Athens' favorite musicians, including Chris Tomazic, Liz Pahl, Nate LaRue, Maceo Gabbard, J.J. Reed, Chris Biester, and Andrew Wieland. Come enjoy the relaxed ambiance and creative melodies of some of our best local songwriters.

Volunteer Action in Review

Volunteer Action, the weekly radio show project produced by Rural Action on WATH with Ray Wagner (970 AM at 10:06 am), features local volunteers who are making a difference in their communities.

On September 25, Kathy Trace, the director of Community Health Programs (CHP) and AHEC programs at OU-College of Medicine, joined Ray on the show. They talked about CHP, which provides free or low cost medical services to residents of Southeastern Ohio. One such service is the Free Clinic, which sets up at the Federal Valley Resource Center in Stewart, Ohio. According to their website, “Community Service Programs (CSP) grew out of the Childhood Immunization Program (CHIP) that began in 1994. The multi-county CHIP program, which travels to isolated rural areas in a 40-foot van, was designed to reach children in 21 Southeast Ohio counties…Last year the Community Service Programs office at OU-COM provided thousands of dollars worth of free or low cost health care services to the residents of the area.”

On October 2, Volunteer Action guests were Emily Beveridge, an Americorps*Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) at the Federal Valley Resource Center and Todd Dean of the Midwest Scenic Company who is the Director of the organization’s Haunted House. Federal Valley Resource Center is a nonprofit organization that benefits the Federal Hocking School District, and offers the community many services including: a free weekly health van, low cost studio spaces, a computer lab, senior club, and children’s programs. The Haunted House is built and run by volunteers from the community, including Federal Hocking, Ohio University, and Hocking College students, who volunteer for the love of a good scare. Utilizing the campus of the Old Middle School in Stewart, Ohio, the haunt differs thematically each year, but is consistently ghoulish. This year’s theme, “Unexplained Files of Southeastern Ohio,” draws inspiration from local myths and legends, as well as unexplained murders from the Southeastern region of the state, and includes the Mothman, and the Ridges Asylum.

Rural Action's Annual Fundraising Breakfast is November 15

Our annual fundraiser will be on November 15th from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Athens Community Center. This is a great way to learn more about Rural Action and show support for our work. If you are interested in hosting a table, helping organize the event (everything from food prep to dishes!), or attending, contact Tori Patterson, 740-767-4938.

Farewell to AmeriCorps*VISTA Liz Bonny, Youth Leadership Liaison

Liz Bonny ended her year of service with Rural Action on September 21. Liz worked with the Youth Act program, engaging local students in Athens County schools in service learning projects. These projects included a benefit dance for My Sister’s Place (a local domestic violence shelter), establishing a recycling program in a school, and raising money to buy garbage cans for downtown Glouster. Liz will be moving to Kansas to live near family and will eventually get a master’s in Social Work at the University of Kansas.