CAMBRIDGE, Ohio — Recently, the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District hosted a local Meadowbrook HS student in its volunteer training program. Erica Showalter, daughter of Robert Showalter and Rachel Reid, of Pleasant City, contacted our office to ask if she could volunteer in order to learn more about the district and what working in this field might be like.
Erica plans to attend Hocking Technical College after she graduates, to pursue a career in natural resources. Over a two-month period, Erica spent two half-days every week with the district staff. During this time, she was able to participate in a wide variety of the day-to-day tasks.
One day, she walked in Moore Memorial Woods with Clum Forestry Consultants as they marked trees for harvest. She observed as each tree was evaluated and learned whether it was ready for harvest, or needed more time to mature and increase in value, or if it was damaged or diseased and needed to be removed from the timber stand.
The next day, she went out with the district’s wildlife specialist, Joe Lehman, on a deer damage complaint. She got to see the damage to a planted field firsthand, and learn how Joe decides if the damage is caused by deer browsing, and if so, whether the damage qualifies for a deer control permit to be issued by the state Division of Wildlife.
On another day, she went out on a farm visit with district technician Van Slack. The landowner needed to put in a stream crossing to get farm equipment across a larger stream on his property, and wanted to know the correct way to install it so the stream bed and banks would not be damaged, and so the crossing would remain usable over a long period of time.
Erica was involved in the discussion of where and how the crossing should be built, and also in the process of discerning whether a permit would be needed from the Army Corps of Engineers, due to the size of the stream and the amount of bank that would be disturbed.
Erica also helped deliver the district’s brillion seeder to a landowner who was renting the equipment to plant a cover crop to protect his field from soil erosion over the winter. She observed how the equipment was calibrated in order to assure a successful seeding.
She accompanied Joe and Van on three different calls; a complaint of possible soil erosion and water runoff from a logging site; a water quality concern in a landowner’s stream; and checking a logging site at the request of a landowner who wanted to be sure their planned logging roads and log landing would not cause any erosion concerns during and after the timber harvest.
Erica also assisted in educational programs. During the Paul Bunyan Show, the public visited the district’s new trailer and learned about water quality.
Erica helped Joe net several water dwelling insects that represent poor or good water quality, collectively known as “benthic bugs,” which were displayed in the water quality trailer.
Her biggest project was to plan and execute an educational program of her own. She chose a Fall Tree ID walk on the Great Guernsey Trail. She set the date and time, wrote a news article, designed a flyer, and made an inventory of the trees along the trail so she could identify the tree and interesting things about the species to share with the attendees.
Erica attended the recent Guernsey SWCD annual meeting and election, where she was honored for her volunteerism, and received a thank you gift from the district.
(Lisa Rodenfels is district program administrator for Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District. Lisa has been with the district for more than eight years.)