Wetlands Across Ohio

2018 was an especially productive year for wetland habitat improvement. In total, we completed nearly 13 acres of wetland restoration/creation across 5 Ohio Counties (Lucas, Delaware, Franklin, Greene, and Hamilton). Wetland types included deep emergent marsh, shallow marsh, sedge meadow, and wetland fringe. These wetlands were created or restored for many purposes, including education, stewardship, public park amenities, recreation and mitigation. We have several projects in the works that we anticipate will add nearly 30 acres of wetland to Ohio’s landscape in 2019! If you have a wetland project in mind and need professional guidance implementing your plan, please give us a call!

Jenny Earns PWS

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This December, Christmas came early for Jenny Adkins, who received notification that she earned certification as a Professional Wetland Scientist! The certification is managed by the Society of Wetland Scientists, a terrific resource for scientific literature and management practices for wetland conservation and restoration. Jenny has worked with us for nearly 8 years and park districts in Miami and Montgomery County prior to joining our team. In her time at MAD, she has become specialized in plant identification and restoration planting plans, as well as wetland delineations and monitoring. She also heads MAD’s educational endeavors, leading classroom and community events at wetlands and professional development programs for teachers.

Congratulations on this achievement, Jenny!

MADucation News

This year brought us the opportunity to reach a diverse audience seeking environmental and ecological knowledge. We had the pleasure of working with local elementary-middle schools, City of Columbus High Schools, college students, as well as individuals and organizations that participated in several community projects. Activities included team-building games, wetland exploration, planting and invasive species control, science fair displays, and wetland illustration assistance. Wetlands can be fun learning environments for people of all ages!

Louisville District Water Quality & Biological Data Collection

MAD Scientist Associates was selected by the United State Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to collect biotic, physical, and chemical data for streams flowing into two public reservoirs, CJ Brown and Caesar Creek, covering 13 sites from July-October. Mark Dilley and Jenna Odegard headed field teams that collected fish, invertebrate, water chemistry data, as well as physical stream measurements. Data collected from these sites were used to evaluate health of the streams surrounding the reservoirs.

Fish populations were sampled by electrofishing, while invertebrates were collected using Hester-Dendy samplers and dip nets. The fish and invertebrate data was then evaluated using the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) and Invertebrate Community Index (ICI), respectively. Stream habitat was assessed using the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI), which assigns rating scores for desirable habitat characteristics. In-situ water quality data was collected using a YSI meter. These reservoirs in the Springfield and Cincinnati area are very important for flood protection, recreation, and the wide variety of species they support. This data will be applied toward watershed management, enhancement, and protection.

See the USACE write up in this month’s Fall City Engineer publication.

Another Semester Down

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Following the departure of Dr. William Mitsch from The Ohio State University, Mark was asked to teach the Wetland Ecology & Restoration (lecture and lab) class at the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR). This course, taught each fall semester, is SENR’s signature wetland course, with 55-65 students enrolling in the lecture. Mark was honored to be hired as the lecturer for the course, and he anticipated serving in this capacity for a year or two. As it turns out, Mark has really enjoyed teaching, and SENR has appreciated his involvement in this important course. He now has happily taught it for seven years! The time commitment makes life challenging during the fall, but the interaction with students (three of whom now work at MAD!) and the rewards of educating the next generation of environmental professionals has made it all worthwhile for Mark.

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Central Ohio P.R.I.S.M.

Those of us in the wetland business are no strangers to the frustrations of managing invasive plant species- they are a pain to remove, they crowd out desirable native species, they lower the ecological value of a site, and can be costly to control. So, let’s start talking about ways to reduce the presence of non-native species and alleviate frustration in the future, not just in wetlands, but in forests and prairies, both on private and public lands too.

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This fall, Jenny Adkins, Lead Botanist, and Jim Palus, Ecosystems Restoration Specialist, joined the planning effort for the Central Ohio Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) planning effort this fall to see what they could learn and how MAD Scientist Associates can participate in managing (or help our clients manage) these problematic species. This PRISM (there are 6 in the state) covers 17 counties in Central Ohio, encompassing the Darby (Big and Little), Deer Creek, Upper Scioto, Olentangy, Alum, and Big Walnut watersheds. Anyone with a vested interest can join the effort, and in the interest of increasing awareness and effectiveness, diversity in participants is encouraged. Goals for this PRISM include: group leadership, prevention, early detection, and rapid response to prevent the spread of invasives; management of existing populations; educational outreach to improve awareness; and finally; the introduction of policies and regulations in support of prevention and management efforts.

As a company, we offer invasive species management services ranging from manual (physical) removal to chemical treatments, revegetation with native species, staff training for grounds crews, and management plans for our clients to continue sustainable practices in the future.

For more information on getting involved in your local PRISM, contact Jenny Adkins.

For more information on Ohio’s listed invasive species, see the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

20th Anniversary Fun!

MAD Scientist Associates reached a major milestone of 20 years in business this April. Our big celebration of this momentous occasion happened in October at our Halloween-themed open house. This party also served as the Grand Opening for our expanded office space. The expansion provides us additional office space, a dedicated laboratory for taxonomic work, a large supply room, and an enlarged conference/training room for hosting meetings, lectures, and educational programs (keep your eyes peeled for MAD Scientist Associates class offerings in 2019!). We thank all our family, friends, and colleagues who helped us celebrate this milestone. If you weren’t in attendance, we hope you’ll get a sense of our event by enjoying the MAD photos below!

MAD Joins Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Initiative Committee

The Green Ribbon Initiative (GRI) is a nationally recognized program that celebrates efforts made by schools to raise environmental awareness and literacy of their staff and students, promote healthy lifestyles, and reduce energy consumption. GRI awards may be given to PreK-12, private, and post-secondary institutions. Priority is given to those who score high on assessment rubric, with special consideration given to institutions serving disadvantaged student populations. This fall, Jenny and Mark joined the GRI committee for the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). They are now the primary reviewers of statewide applications, and also serve as liaisons between school and ODE officials.

As of 2018, at least 30 states are active in the GRI. Since its inception in 2011, approximately 488 applicants have been honored as a Green Ribbon School. Each state may submit up to five applicants, though many more may be reviewed. Once Jenny and Mark approve an application, it is passed along to members of the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio EPA, and Ohio Department of Health who conduct an additional review. Final selection is made at the federal level, and award honorees are invited to participate in a recognition ceremony in Washington DC.

Click here to learn more about the Green Ribbon Initiative or contact Jenny Adkins. MAD encourages its school clients to go green!

MAD Welcomes P.E., Terry O’Malley (…again!)

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Terry is a Professional Engineer with a background in hydraulic modeling, remediation, dam safety, and stormwater pollution prevention. She is MAD’s first P.E., but it’s not the first time she has worked for us! Interestingly, Terry originally worked with MAD as an intern in 2011 while transitioning to a new career field. She is a welcomed addition to our team, and we look forward to tackling new projects together!

Welcome to Zach!

We are pleased to introduce our new (and first!) Conservation Specialist, Zach Bollheimer!  Zach has worked as a Water Quality Intern for the Ohio EPA, an Urban Conservation Specialist for the Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District, and in several other conservation-related positions in Kentucky and Washington. 

He holds an Ohio Pesticide Applicator's License and has Wildland Firefighter experience.  He also received training and certification in Green Infrastructure Construction and Maintenance for the City of Columbus.  His knowledge of storm water management, invasive species control, planting, and general site management will be of great value to MAD Scientist Associates, as we attract bigger and better ecological restoration and wetland construction projects around Ohio.  Welcome to the Team, Zach!

Connecting with the community during the annual Wetland Weekend events

MAD Scientist Associates is always happy to team with the City of Westerville Parks & Recreation Department to connect with the community in sharing about wetlands and the natural wonders held within sites like Highlands Park.  On Friday, May 18, the third of our Frog Friday events was held, and nearly 100 community members of all ages came out to learn about the frogs on site:  American toad (Anaxarus americanus) adults and tadpoles, bullfrog (Ranas catesbeiana), green frog (Ranas clamitans), and gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor). Toad tadpoles were also seen in abundance, and a large mass of gray treefrog eggs were observed.  MAD provided nets that children used to collect frogs for closer observation (then released them).  

On Saturday of the Wetland Weekend, we hosted our annual Wetland Workshop, also at Highlands Park.  Mark Dilley welcomed the 75 attendees and gave them a brief introduction to wetlands and their importance to our drinking water and overall ecosystem.  MAD staff members and interns hosted stations around the wetlands to help visitors learn about its various aspects:  soils, amphibians, invertebrates, and wildlife.  Exploration was also encouraged, allowing participants to wade into the nature play area wetlands to use small nets to discover the life forms below the water.  Some notable wildlife observations include: mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos), and great blue heron (Ardea herodias), and a nesting blue bird pair (Sialia sialis).  The rain caused us to wrap up a bit early, but a lot of fun and learning took place!

A big thanks to Schneider's Bakery for donating a box of doughnuts for our event participants to enjoy.  Watch our events calendar next May to join in the Wetland Weekend fun!

MAD Scientist Associates Celebrates two decades!

On April Fool's Day, claiming 10 years in business may seem like plenty;

But on Sunday (believe it or not), our company turned TWENTY!

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It’s no joke! We’re TWO decades older, TWO decades stronger, TWO decades wiser, and still MAD about the environment after all these years! We’ve been fortunate to have had valued clients and a superb, growing team who have made all these years of hard work and dedication in environmental consulting and conservation both fun and fruitful.

More information about events to commemorate our milestone of 20 years will be forthcoming. Stay tuned to MAD Scientist Associates’ website and social media!

Park planning project in Marblehead makes the news

MAD Scientist Associates teamed with CT Consultants to develop a plan to improve Lucien M. Clemons Park in the Lake Erie coastal community of Marblehead Village. MAD’s role was to design the ecological restoration plan for the park, with an emphasis on native Lake Erie shoreline plant communities. CT Consultants designed the park’s amenities and general infrastructure to benefit park visitors. The park will likely be built in phases, as funding is secured. Once complete, the park will be completely transformed. And as one of the few reaches of shoreline that will be publicly accessible, the park usage is expected to be very high. The presentation to the Village council of the conceptual plan for park was attended by a reporter from Port Clinton’s newspaper, The Beacon. You can click here for the full story.

Execs earn key certification renewals

As majority owner, Christine Dilley was approved to renew MAD’s Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) certifications as well as the company’s EDGE certification. The WBE/WOSB certifications are utilized by thousands of major U.S. corporations and federal, state and local government entities nationally. EDGE (Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity Program) is a state of Ohio recognized certification that supports disadvantaged businesses. We are pleased to have this state and national support to allow us to better serve our clients and teaming partners in meeting their needs and goals.

Mark Dilley’s Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) certification was also renewed. As a PWS, Mark will continue to exemplify high standards in the practice of wetland science. This certification signifies that, in the eyes of his practicing wetland professional peers, Mark has continued to develop his wetland career through training, teaching, and taking on leadership roles in the wetland profession. Further, it confirms his dedication to the PWS code of ethics. This certification provides clients peace of mind, knowing they can entrust Mark’s training and oversight of our team of wetland scientists.

 

Jenny Adkins to be named EECO Secretary

MAD associate Jenny Adkins was recently nominated for the position of Secretary with the Environmental Education Council of Ohio (EECO). She will be inducted as an officer at the annual conference to take place April 14 at the Maumee Bay State Park Lodge just east of Toledo. MAD Scientist Associates has long attended and presented at EECO conferences and we look forward to strengthening connections through Jenny’s participation as Secretary.

EECO is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and facilitate environmental education for a more scientifically literate population, resulting in a healthier environment. Members include formal and informal educators, businesses, state officials, students, and individuals. They strive to connect environmental professionals with educators and students seeking expertise and to raise career awareness. If you are interested in learning more about EECO or would like to attend the upcoming conference, contact Jenny or register here. We also encourage our friends and colleagues to donate generously to this reputable organization. Directly or indirectly, environmental education is the reason that there are environmental careers! Educating the next generation is key to a brighter and more livable future.

We’re a GreenSpot business!

Our firm takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, and we’re making continual improvements to become more sustainable. MAD Scientist Associates has confirmed this commitment by becoming part of Columbus’ GreenSpot program. GreenSpot, now with more than 17,000 members, is a citywide effort to have businesses and individuals “go green” to help create a healthier and more environmentally-conscious Columbus area.

“As a company, we’ve always adhered to the values exemplified by GreenSpot, but now, as a member business, we can reaffirm our environmental ethic and publicly support the Go Green efforts of this organization to help create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable Columbus and central Ohio area,” said MAD associate Jenna Odegard. GreenSpot offers support and suggestions to help its members make the workplace more “green” while decreasing their carbon footprint, and MAD intends to implement as many of these suggestions as possible. This is another way to show the communities in which we work that our company is serious about maintaining the health of our global environment — by taking action at the local level, especially in Westerville and Columbus.

As a member of the program, MAD will be added to the GreenSpot website. On this website, like-minded businesses and individuals can find a list of resources, including a toolkit containing a media release, a template message to help spread the word to colleagues, forms to pledge environmental consciousness and more.

If you or your business are interested in becoming more sustainable, we recommend you visit www.columbus.gov/greenspot to learn more!

MAD facilitates workshop, training at OVPN

Mark Dilley spent the last few weekends in March presenting at workshops held by the Ohio Vernal Pool Network (OVPN) and the Ohio Wetlands Association (OWA). 

As President of the non-profit OWA, Mark was responsible for presenting on the topic of the "Flora of Vernal Pools." MAD staffer Jenny Adkins played a key role in developing his presentation. Both are continuing to make improvements to this training module based on feedback from workshop participants.

The presentations took place at Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware and the Brukner Nature Center in Troy. These workshops were conducted to beta-test a "train the trainer" presentation package that is being developed with funding support from an Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF) grant from Ohio EPA. The overall goal of the training is to encourage citizen scientists to better understand and appreciate the ecological importance of vernal pools and contribute to their monitoring and protection.

The OVPN is a collaboration between the Ohio Wetlands Association and the Midwest Biodiversity Institute.

MAD takes part in Ohio Natural History Conference in Cleveland

The annual Ohio Natural History Conference (ONHC) is an annual conference which typically takes place in Columbus. However, the Ohio Biological Survey (OBS) decided that they would try to move the event to other areas of the state and highlight our various ecoregions in the process. This year, it was held in Cleveland, Lake Erie Allegheny Plateau ecoregion. The event was on Feb. 24 at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. MAD staff Mark Dilley and Jim Palus were both in attendance. The keynote speaker was Martin Kalfatovic, Program Director of the Biodiversity Heritage Library at The Smithsonian. Martin’s keynote address was titled, “Expanding Access for the Local and Global: Increasing Access & Empowering Global Biodiversity Research through the Biodiversity Heritage Library.”

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As Chair of the OBS Board, Mark led the process of hiring a new Executive Director for the organization in the weeks leading up to the conference. At the conference, had the opportunity to welcome more than 200 participants, and introduce the new Executive Director, Dr. Connie Hausman, the first female director of OBS.

The group photo shows the current board, as well as two award recipients, Dr. Charles McClaugherty and Emliss Ricks (back row, center, left to right) that were honored at the event.Follow these links to learn more about OBS and the ONHC.

Despite chilly weather, Rocky Fork vernal pool event still a success

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Mark Dilley and Jenna Odgard assisted with the Vernal Pool Extravaganza event, held on March 11 at Rocky Fork Metro Park. Though the weather was less than ideal for a wetland exploration, the event was a huge success, with many families and individuals coming out to learn about the wonders of vernal pools. Our team worked alongside Mick Michacchion from the Midwest Biological Institute, and several Metro Parks Naturalists to guide the group through an emergent marsh and a constructed vernal pool to retrieve funnel traps and look for signs of life in early Spring. Attendants were thrilled to see mole salamanders and wood frogs that braved the frigid temperatures to visit their seasonal breeding sites!