MAD Stream Mitigation Monitoring Support for The Wilderness Center

In mid-October, our team finished collecting stream profile measurements on a recently-restored headwater stream at The Wilderness Center in Wilmot, Ohio.  While there, they also conducted a brief survey of the fish community with Stewardship Manager, Gary Popotnik. With just a few seine hauls within the restored mitigation reach, they were able to document 12 species, 3 of which were previously undocumented in the original channelized ditch. The team was pleased to see such major improvements in just a year's time!

Pictured here is the banded darter (Etheostoma zonale), a common predator of small streams with ample riffle habitat. Though not visible here, during breeding season (April-May) this species and many other darters are ornately clad in vibrant striping and streaks of red, teal, green, and blue.

We would like to thank Environmental Design Group for getting us involved in this project, The Wilderness Center for accommodating the mitigation for impacts at the Akron-Canton Airport, and ERC (Environmental Remediation Contractors) for doing an excellent job on the construction.

Crawford Park District: Heckert Nature Preserve Wetland Creation

The Crawford Park District received a grant through The Nature Conservancy to enhance a farm ditch (a recently daylighted drainage tile line), that is a tributary to the headwaters of the Olentangy River in Crawford County. MAD Scientist Associates designed a flow-through wetland system that would receive both surface runoff and farm tile drainage.

In MAD's design, surface runoff is guided through a series of wetland step-pools before reaching the lower emergent marsh pool and mixing with the tile drainage in the southern half of the original ditch. This design optimized the wetland area and water quality enhancement opportunities, while eliminating the need for costly hauling of soils for off-site disposal. The high quality vernal pools in Heckert Nature Preserve, downstream of this water quality wetland, should be better protected from excess nutrients and agricultural chemicals now that the drain tile no longer releases directly into the stream at the edge of the woods.   

We're hoping to see more progressive projects of this nature to combat nutrient runoff the future. Thank you to the Crawford Park District for allowing us the creative license to create this unique wetland system. We hope it serves the watershed well!

Collaboration can accomplish great things. Debra Knapke, of Columbus State Community College, headed this wetland creation project at Sharon Meadows Park, owned by the City of Columbus. The Park (site) previously housed the Sharon School building. The 10-acre park features open space, ballfields, a playground, and a paved walking path. Several low-lying areas near the playground were periodically flooded, making them unusable and unattractive.  Mark and Daniel completed a soil assessment and topographic survey and determined that a wetland creation project would be possible. Planning and design work was completed in part by BrightView, Columbus State, Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW), and MAD. Columbus State students and faculty, members of the Sharon Heights Community Association, and MAD staff helped plant the newly constructed wetland, which include sedge meadow, emergent marsh, and scrub-shrub zones. The Clintonville Fire Department arrived after the planting to literally hose down the wetland. It was quite the spectacle! Park guests are encouraged to explore the new wetland using the mulched walking path and enjoy unique vantage points from rock slabs. The project was largely funded by U.S. and Ohio EPA grants. 

Click HERE to see a video about the project!

Greenacres Foundation embraces wetlands for their environmental and educational benefits

MAD has been working with the Greenacres Foundation, a non-profit environmental education and sustainable farming organization in Cincinnati, Ohio, on two exciting wetland projects. Earlier this year, MAD designed and oversaw the construction of a treatment wetland to reduce nutrients in runoff from within and around their cattle weight house. A multi-cell wetland system was created to encourage sedimentation, colloid removal, nutrient sequestration (in plants and soils), and infiltration, before this facility runoff enters a tributary feeding Sycamore Creek.

We are also pleased to report that Greenacres has broken ground on another wetland project near their education building. This one, a failed farm pond, turned emergent marsh, will be restored and expanded for Greenacres to use as an outdoor education site. Our team is working closely with Greenacres' staff to build and plant a wetland that is accessible for student use, and will provide improved water quality and wildlife habitat functions. A bioretention basin at the upstream end of the wetland drainage will receive pasture runoff before entering the marsh. This basin will feature an exposed concrete wall with a glass window that will allow students to get a unique view of the soil profile. As part of their sustainable practices, much of the plant material for this wetland will be grown in-house, or locally sourced.

Click the video GO button below to see how fast our team works!

2017 Make a Difference Day at Boyer Nature Preserve

On Saturday, October 28, MAD Scientist Associates will be working with the City of Westerville Parks & Recreation Dept. and FACT to host the annual Make a Difference Day event at Boyer Nature Preserve in Westerville, Ohio.  We'll be continuing the battle against invasive species in the Preserve, targeting bush honeysuckle and non-native plant removal will be our focus. 

This is a family-friendly and group-friendly event, so bring yourselves and everyone you know! There's lots to do.

The event will run from 9:00-12:30.

Boyer Nature Preserve is located at:  452 E Park St., Westerville, OH 43081

Outdoor classroom wetland creation to benefit Etna Elementary students

Etna Elementary School (grades 4-5) hired MAD to enhance their existing outdoor classroom through the addition of created wetlands and additional native habitats. The original area included mowed paths and a meeting area surrounded by unmowed turf grass. The Etna teachers were specifically interested in improving the existing low-quality emergent wetland, and add native habitat areas, such as hardwood forest, tall-grass prairie, and scrub-shrub wetland.  MAD completed a wetland delineation and obtained approval for the project with the Ohio EPA. Thanks to a motivated team and a helpful Etna parent, earthwork began in late April and was finished in August. The team is hard at work applying for grants to complete the project. The Southwest Licking Local School District is eager to have this one-of-a-kind outdoor classroom ready for school use!

NEW Ecological Restoration Certifications

Congratulations to Mark Dilley earning approval as a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (CERP) and to staffer Jim Palus on earning his CERP-in training (CERPIT) from the Society for Ecological Restoration.  The Society intends for this certification to encourage a high standard for practitioners who are designing, implementing, overseeing, and monitoring projects throughout the world.   We are proud to provide this level of restoration services to our clients!  Contact us for your next restoration job.

Residents of Kendal at Oberlin enjoy wetland enhancement

We were pleased to get our hands dirty during the final phase of the Kendal at Oberlin wetland enhancement. This was our first major planting event of 2017, with the installation of over 4,000 native wetland and prairie plugs (28 species)! Work on this 2-acre wetland enhancement began in late 2015 with a delineation and permit application. In 2016, the design was completed and put out to bid. Wildlife was relocated to other wetlands within the Kendal property in preparation for earthwork. That October, the wetland basin was shaped and planted with native seed, shrubs, and trees. The basin was completely filled by February of 2017.  Residents of the Kendal community have enjoyed monitoring the wetland's development, and will soon have a beautiful view of a wetland system that includes emergent marsh, scrub-shrub, and open water. In order to ensure project success, we will monitor the wetland for water quality, plant establishment, and to manage invasive species over the next two years.

2017 Frog Fridays at Highlands Park Wetlands

In 2016, Frog Fridays began as a fun way to get the community involved in wetland exploration when amphibian activity is at its peak, and Mark had a free Friday evening. Since then, they have evolved into regular events hosted by the City of Westerville Parks and Rec. department with attendance records exceeding 100!
Events were held periodically on Friday evenings from 7:45 to 9:00 pm. MAD provided amphibians and macroinvertebrates for viewing, as well as sampling equipment for participants to use while exploring the wetland. Frequently observed wildlife include American toads, green frogs, bullfrogs, and gray treefrogs. Oftentimes participants saw the silhouettes of mallards and great blue herons flying in to roost for the night, as well as bats and swallows who emerge in the evening to eat flying insects. 
We had a few unfortunate weather events that caused events to end early or be postponed, but we were amazed that diehard amphibian fans were undeterred by cold, rain, and on one occasion, lightning! 

Wetland Weekend 2017 - Great turnout and great weather!

The City of Westerville City Council proclaimed May 2017 as National Wetlands Month and called upon all citizens of Westerville to aid in the continuing efforts to preserve our valuable wetland resources.  In celebration of wetlands, Westerville Parks & Recreations Dept. and MAD Scientist Associates held its 17th annual Wetland Workshop on Sat., May 20, preceded by a Frog Friday on May 19, the night before.  Both events were well-attended, with over 70 participants in Saturday's Wetland Workshop.  In addition to the City, we would like to thank Schneider's Bakery for their doughnuts and Starbucks on Polaris Parkway for the coffee donations!  As you can see in the photos below, great fun was had by all!

The summer interns are here!

With summer fast approaching, we are excited to have some extra help with field work from our 2017 summer interns!  We welcome Joe Bevan (Ohio State University), Katie Kirkpatrick (Denison University), and Liz Scott (Otterbein University).  Summer internships are a great way to apply classroom knowledge and expand working knowledge of our environment.  Their orientation training is complete, so they are ready roll!

Triangle Lake Bog State Nature Preserve   | BISNICKS / WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

Triangle Lake Bog State Nature Preserve | BISNICKS / WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

On April 25th, Mark was invited to speak on behalf of MAD and as President of the Ohio Wetlands Association, on WOSU's All Sides with Ann Fisher, regarding the recent Rover Pipeline spills in northeastern Ohio. Other guests included Craig Butler, the Director of the Ohio EPA, and Jennifer Miller, the Director of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter.

Christine Dilley elected to NAWBO Board of Directors

On April 6, 2017, Christine Dilley was elected to the NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) Columbus Board of Directors as Vice President of Corporate Partners.  She is excited to work with other female business owners and businesses who want to support women in business.  NAWBO Columbus is the largest chapter in the United States and strives to advance women entrepreneurs toward economic, social and political achievement.  [RIGHT: NAWBO Columbus Board swearing in ceremony]  [BELOW: Presentation of new corporate partners Sharon Adams of Service Title Agency and Helen Colon of Ameriprise Financial Svcs. The Seeley Group.]

MAD welcomes two new staff members!


We are happy to welcome Jim Palus and Jenna Odegard to the MAD Scientist Associates team!  Jim received his B.S. in Environmental Science and M.S. in Environment and Natural Resources from Ohio State University, both degrees specializing in ecological restoration.  Jenna is a Minnesota native who obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and her Master of Science in Environment and Natural Resources- Fisheries and Wildlife from the Ohio State University.  Visit Our Team page to learn more about our newest Environmental Scientists!

Frog Fridays are Back!  

Spring is here!  With that, we will be resuming our popular Frog Friday programs.  Beginning Friday, April 14, we will meet at the Highlands Park Wetlands at 7:45 p.m. for a short presentation followed by ample exploration time (until around 9 W.m.).  If you want to test your frog catching skills, nets will be provided.  We suggest you bring a flashlight, wear old shoes and dress for the weather.  We hope to see you then!  

Check our Volunteer &  Events  frequently for other Frog Friday dates throughout the spring.  Thanks to the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department for supporting this fun and educational event!

Mark is renewed for Level 3 Qualified Collector Status with Ohio EPA

MAD Scientist Associates is pleased to announce that Mark has successfully completed the renewal process to maintain his Level 3 Qualified Data Collector status with the Ohio EPA for fish studies and Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) assessments.  In the fall of 2016, Mark and staff members Aaron Laver and Jacob Zink sampled a reach on the Olentangy River and two reaches on adjacent tributaries.  This sampling effort was performed in collaboration with the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW), and Joe Bevan, FLOW volunteer extraordinaire, assisted with a significant portion of the field work (thanks, Joe!) 

The waterways assessed in the study were sampled using an electrofisher unit that temporarily stuns fish for ease of capture.  An Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) and QHEI score was then calculated for each site (as well as a Modified Index of Well-being, MIWb, for the mainstem Olentangy).  A summary of his findings and a link to the report can be found on FLOW’s website.  The current list of Ohio EPA QDCs is available HERE.  Mark’s certification will be valid through February 2020.  Staff member Mary Skapof is a Level 2 QDC for invertebrate studies, as well.  If you need credible fish, invertebrate or QHEI data for your next project, we would welcome the opportunity to assist you!

By Jenny Adkins, Botany Specialist

For those of you reading in Ohio and a good portion of the Midwest, you know that this has been one strange winter. While the average temperature this time of year (historically) is 40.8⁰F, we've recently traded our winter coats and gloves for light layers and even short-sleeved shirts, with temperatures in the mid-high 60's! This stretch of warm weather has many of us feeling like spring has sprung in February instead of April. And we're not the only ones confused by this warm spell. Several spring ephemeral species.....[MORE]

Aaron Earns Certification as a Mussel Surveyor

Environmental Scientist Aaron Laver has passed the test to be certified as a mussel surveyor in Ohio.  This certification will allow Aaron, an avid diver and underwater photographer, to be MAD’s lead surveyor for projects with proposed impacts to Group 1 and 3 streams and rivers.  A list of these streams and rivers is provided in the Ohio Mussel Survey Protocol, which can be downloaded here.  To prepare for the exam and hone his skills, Aaron spent weeks reviewing the taxonomic literature in our library, including The Freshwater Mussels of Ohio (highly recommended, by the way) and the Field Guide to the Freshwater Mussels of the Midwest.  He then completed some intensive review of the bivalve collection at The Ohio State Museum of Biological Diversity

The test, administered by staff at the museum, consists of identifying 100 bivalves based only on external characteristics (and, for certain species, location data) during a three-hour exam.  To earn this certification, Aaron had to correctly identify more than 80% of the mussel species, and could not miss a single Federal or State-listed Threatened or Endangered Species.  Congratulations to Aaron on this accomplishment! 

If you have a water-dependent project that will involve disturbance below the Ordinary High Water Mark of a Group 1 or 3 stream, we hope to hear from you!

New Field Indicators of Hydric Soils Manual

The National Technical Committee for Hydric Soils has published a new version of the Field Indicators of Hydric Soils handbook.  This update comes 6 years following the distribution of version 7.0 in 2010 and many questions and recommendations regarding the wording of indicator criteria.  The new manual replaces the word “within” with “at a depth ≤” additionally, thickness requirements are now given as “starting at a top depth” rather than “entirely within a bottom depth.”  These changes are a further departure from the diagnostic language used in the Keys to Soil Taxonomy which commonly makes reference to features “within” a particular depth.  Additionally, the term “faint” in the Glossary, which refers to the contrast between redox concentrations colors and matrix colors has an additional figure to clarify its lack of distinction.  Apart from these small changes, and a new set of cover photos, none of the indicator criteria have changed so don’t go running to reevaluate old data sheets.  As a result, the old 7.0 manuals will still work out in the field if you’re accustomed to the “within” language.  The new version is available digitally online at the NRCS Soil Use web page or you can order physical copies through the online NRCS Distribution Center.

Dilley named OWA President

Mark was recently elected President of the Ohio Wetlands Association, having spent two years on the board and serving as the organization's Education Chair. The OWA is a state-wide, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting wetlands throughout Ohio. Mark looks forward to his new leadership role in furthering the important work of OWA, particularly as it pertains to raising awareness of these very crucial ecosystems and encouraging wetland restoration efforts across Ohio. As President, one of Mark's main goals is to grow this important conservation organization and garner a broader base of support.  He'll be encouraging our clients and colleagues to consider becoming members.  If you're interested in becoming a member or wish to learn more about OWA, check out their website.

MAD Stream Restoration

If there's one thing we love at MAD Scientist Associates, it's a restoration project! 

Channelized stream above and restored mitigation stream segment below

For this stream restoration, we partnered with The Wilderness Center and Environmental Design Group to mitigate a stream impact. 

This aerial was taken by The Wilderness Center shortly after the earthwork was completed. Since then, hundreds of native trees and shrubs have been installed and herbaceous wetland plugs have been planted on the stream benches. This project replaces 600 feet of channelized and incised stream with over 800 feet of meandering channel with floodplain benches.  These features will provide better aquatic habitat and improved water quality functions through increased sinuosity, improved substrates, and riparian buffer enhancement. 

Remember us for your next stream restoration project!

Highlands Park Wetlands featured in Westerville news program

"Focus Westerville" is an online video series produced by the City of Westerville. The most recent episode highlights the topic of environmental stewardship and how community members can make a difference by understanding and caring for their natural resources.

One of MAD Scientist Associates' favorite projects, the Highlands Park Wetlands, is featured in this production (from 11:25-16:30 in the video).  Mark is interviewed about the project background and purpose of the Highlands Park wetland renovation. Footage was captured during the 2016 Wetland Workshop, which is held annually in May, National Wetlands Month. This wetland intercepts stormwater runoff from the aquatic center, parking lots, and neighboring housing developments before it enters Spring Run, a degraded tributary to Alum Creek. After four years of development, the wetland now supports a complex array of habitat types, which has increased use by migratory and resident wildlife. It has also shown to be effective at removing sediments and nutrients within the water column, which means cleaner water for downstream for Spring Run and Alum Creek. 
If you watch the entire video, you can learn about stormwater management, hazardous waste disposal, water quality, tree care, and energy conservation!  Click the photo above for our segment or click  HERE check out the whole video!

Students and families learn from MAD Scientists at McVay Elementary Science Night

The McVay Elementary PTA put on a fantastic Science Night event on Wednesday, November 16th.  MAD Scientist Associates was happy to participate, not just because we love Science Nights, but because we were able to talk with students, parents, and teachers about the vernal pool enhancement project (completed in 2015). It was great to hear reports of use from students and community members, and to have an opportunity to discuss the unique functioning of vernal pools. Oh, and participants also loved seeing our edu-animals, all of which could be found in Ohio vernal pools!

We also wanted to thank the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for providing wildlife field guides for our events. We love giving kids a hands-on experience with live animals and sending them home with guides to learn more about Ohio's native wildlife!

Make a Difference Day at Boyer Nature Preserve 2016

We had a great turnout for our Make a Difference Day at Boyer Nature Preserve on Saturday, Oct 22.  Over 70 volunteers worked alongside MAD staff, FACT leaders and with City of Westerville employees to remove invasive shrubs and plant native shrubs and trees in their place.  Thanks to all who gave of their time to help in the effort.  Please come by often to check on the little trees you planted!  [Thanks to Schneider's Bakery for the doughnuts and to S. State St. Tim Hortons for the coffee!]

MAD shares value of wetlands with Worthington after school program students

MAD Scientist Associates visited the Slate Hill Elementary Care After School Program on September 29th to introduce students to the basic characteristics and important functions of wetlands. The students met some of our program critters and learned how macroinvertebrates can indicate water quality. The highlight of the program, by far, was getting a chance to get down and dirty with wetland soils! 

Mark presented Wetland Plants: Twenty to Thrill, Five to Kill at Flora Quest 2016

Professional Wetland Scientist Mark Dilley was the morning speaker for Flora Quest 2016 on September 30. His talk was entitled Wetland Plants: Twenty to Thrill, Five to Kill.  Other speakers included local expert Jim McCormac, who spoke about Lake Erie: Ohio's North Coast and refuge manager Jason Lewis, who shared about the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge: Conserving the Future and Connecting People to Nature.  Flora Quest participants toured the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Big Swamp Woods.

The importance of Plant Surveys for local park districts! 

MAD staff is performing an FQAI (Floristic Quality Assessment Index) for Great Parks of Hamilton County this year to enable them compare park habitat with other parks and preserves to determine where to focus their natural resources management efforts. Read more on the Great Parks of Hamilton County web site.

Wetlands Weekend celebrated at Highlands Park

In celebration of American Wetlands Month (May), MAD Scientist Associates and the City of Westerville Parks & Recreation hosted a Wetland Weekend at Highlands Park with Frog Friday on May 20 and our Wetland Workshop on May 21.

Community members enjoyed listening to and catching frogs for closer observation at Frog Friday.  Frog and toad specimens were also showcased at the Wetland Workshop the following day as examples of amphibian life at Highlands Park. In addition to the amphibians, attendees also viewed a garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), smallmouth salamander (Ambystoma texanum), and gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) among others.  Workshop attendees used dip nets to explore the various wetland pockets and there were wetland-related crafts for those who didn’t want to get their hands dirty.

Floyd Seibert, a Westerville resident, donated common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) from his yard to be planted in the Nature Play area at Highlands and other local wetlands. Workshop participants and MAD interns installed these plants in Nature Play area. Floyd also donated seed, which was packaged by MAD and handed out as a favor at the Workshop.

A BIG THANKS to Starbucks (S. State Street location) for their donation a traveler of coffee and cups, and to Schneider's Bakery for donating two boxes of doughnuts.

Wetland Workshop photos taken by THISWEEK Newspaper photographer Joshua A. Bickel  THISWEEK Newspaper, who attended the Workshop, were published in The Columbus Dispatch May 23rd, 2016 edition and entitled "Exploring Wetands." 

MAD Blog - MAD staff help Environmental Science students put GIS mapping into action

MAD Scientist Associates worked with Chad Schwinnen and Ali Laughbaum of the New Albany High School (N.A.H.S.) Environmental Science Program to discuss the feasibility of graphically cataloguing (i.e. mapping) the natural resources located in and around the school campus. If such an endeavor were to gain enough momentum and support, this initiative would serve as the first of many phases to holistically develop a Land Management Plan... [VIEW BLOG]

MAD Interns get their feed wet in the environmental consulting business for the summer

Over 60 college students applied for the opportunity to work this summer as a MAD Scientist Associates Intern.  From the many stellar students who threw their hat in the ring, we welcome this year's interns: Denise McDonough, Jacob Zink, and Lucas McClish.  During their first week all together, they dug milkweed from the yard of Floyd Siebert, a local resident who donated the plants to be transplanted at Highlands Park and other local habitats.  Thanks to Floyd for his time to raise awareness for pollinators, their life cycles, and necessary habitat. 

MAD Scientist Associates presents to Tree City USA Awards Program attendees 

Mark did a great job presenting about Westerville wetlands to over 130 Tree City USA Awards Program attendees on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at the Westerville Community Center. Highlights included community connections that can be made through conservation efforts, and "tree-tales," which showcased the interesting facts behind tree preservation and plantings for local wetland projects. 

For Throwback Thursday, we included a shot of the moose at the Columbus Zoo enjoying the large (and non-native) corkscrew willows that were removed from Highlands Park during the wetland enhancement project.

MAD Staff and volunteers cleaned up litter and planted for Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, MAD Scientist Associates and the City of Westerville along with local vounteers teamed up for a litter clean-up and planting event at Highlands Park on April 23. The Highlands Wetland received some TLC with new native plantings (plugs and shrubs). Once the work was finished, participants took the opportunity to explore the wetlands. Several species of frog and toads were observed, as well as herons, hawks, and waterfowl. 

MAD Scientist Associates receives WBE national certification

MAD Scientist Associates, LLC has received national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Ohio River Valley Women's Business Council, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).  Simultaneously, MAD also received SBA's Woman-Owned Small Business certification, which will enable them increased opportunities for federal contracts.

 WBENC’s national standard of certification implemented by the Ohio River Valley Women's Business Council is a meticulous process including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women.


By including women-owned businesses among their vendors, corporations, and government agencies demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier/vendor diversity programs.

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council is the nation’s largest third party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the United States. WBENC is a resource for the more than 700 US companies and government agencies that rely on WBENC’s certification as an integral part of their supplier diversity programs.

Contact MAD Scientist Associates today to support local and federal diversity while accomplishing your goals.

Conceptual diagram comparing a healthy system with no or low eutrophic condition to an unhealthy system exhibiting eutrophic symptoms. From Bricker et al., 2007. 

Conceptual diagram comparing a healthy system with no or low eutrophic condition to an unhealthy system exhibiting eutrophic symptoms. From Bricker et al., 2007. 

MAD BLOG - Part 2 of a 3-Part Series: Phosphorus in the Environment: The Great Water Resource Threat

As discussed in our last blog post, Phosphorus in the Environment: Conception, Cycling, and Fate in an Ecosystem, the greatest mechanisms for Phosphorus (P) loss from an ecosystem are erosion and run-off. Once lost from an ecosystem, where does it go? What is the fate of this lost P and what does it mean for Ohio and... [VIEW BLOG]

It's Salamander Season!

If you haven't seen our MAD Scientist Associates Facebook page, please take a moment to check out this salamander footage taken by our staff member Aaron Laver.  Aaron shot some very clear underwater video of a Spotted Salamander crawling over a moss-covered log in a vernal pool not far from our office.  Vernal pools like this often go unnoticed since they dry up seasonally and aren't much to look at later in the summer, and yet they are teeming with life this time of year and are vitally important to most of our native amphibians and other organisms that use these temporary pools.  If you watch closely, you'll see that this video co-stars a couple of aquatic worms and hundreds of micro-invertebrates (copepods, daphnia, etc.) that show up as little dancing specks in the water column.  But, of course, the salamander steals the show.  If you'd like a version with some theme music, you're sure to enjoy the version on Aaron's Vimeo account!

MAD Scientist Associates is now EDGE certified

MAD Scientist Associates is pleased to announce that our firm is now EDGE certified by the State of Ohio.  The Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE) program allows small disadvantaged businesses an opportunity to compete for state supply and service contacts.  As the primary shareholder of MAD, owner Christine Dilley is looking forward to finding more opportunities where MAD staff can participate in providing high quality wetland and ecological work to meet the project goals of various agencies within the state.  Please take a moment to review our MAD capabilities here on our web site, and contact us about how our team can help accomplish your project objectives.  

New Year, New MAD Discovery in Dublin


Often it's the little things that keep work interesting.  Case in point: Mark and Aaron's observation of Slaty Skimmer dragonflies during an ecological survey at Dublin's Brandon Park.  This species has not been recorded for Franklin County, so MAD Scientist Associates has submitted photographs for verification of the record with the Ohio Odonata Survey.

MAD BLOG - Part 1 of a 3-part series: Phosphorus in the Environment: Conception, Cycling, and Fate in an Ecosystem

By now, most of us have heard about at least one water quality crisis within the country. These events receive especially abundant media attention whenever water quality reaches a point where citizens can no longer utilize their nearby water source. Recently, two events in particular have generated substantial amounts of... [VIEW BLOG]

MAD-designed wetland project receives high marks from Ohio EPA

Having been tasked with an evaluation of State-funded wetland projects, Ohio EPA Wetland Ecologist Brian Gara visited the Highlands Wetland Expansion and Enhancement site this past summer.  His report on the vegetation quality of wetlands created, restored or enhanced using grants under Section 319, the Surface Water Improvement Fund (SWIF) or the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) identified the Highlands wetlands as having the highest Vegetative Index of Biotic Integrity - Floristic Quality (VIBI-FQ) score of the six sites evaluated, ranking the site as a high Category 2 wetland.  The report states: "The VIBI-FQ score of 41 is very high for a wetland so early in the successional sequence," concluding that "[b]ased strictly on this assessment, the Highland Park wetland should be considered very successful."  Another MAD project, the Reynoldsburg City Schools Summit Road wetlands was ranked as a low Category 2, a respectable result for this high-traffic educational resource for the school campus. 

Lost Creek Restoration Underway

MAD is working with Miami County Park District officials in restoring a field to forest. As part of a Clean Ohio grant project, 317 container trees were planted in what was previously a cattle pasture at the Lost Creek Reserve. This area will now connect two wood blocks and include pockets of wetlands.  We are looking forward to witnessing this site transition from a former pasture area to an oak-hickory savanna.  

Work will carry into 2016, when we plan to enhance sections of an existing wetland and prairie system. Approximately one-half acre of invasive species were treated in 2015 and were seeded with a native sedge meadow mix. Over 1,000 rooted plugs will be installed with the help of Miami County Volunteers next spring.

MAD photo selected for SWS 2016 calendar cover shot

This cool amphibian is going to get some national exposure!  Mark recently received the news that this photo (of a gray tree frog at a City of Columbus wetland mitigation site) was selected as the first place winner of the Society of Wetland Scientists' photo competition and will serve as the cover of the professional organization's 2016 calendar.  We always knew this frog would be a star some day! If you're interested in seeing beautiful wetlands from around the globe while supporting a  great organization, you can order your copy HERE

MAD Staff takes time to give NAHS students professional feedback

In December, several MAD staff members went back to high school! Well, they were invited by the New Albany High School Environmental Science class to critique presentations developed by 11th grade students regarding harmful algal blooms. It was a pleasure listening to students explain how they researched possible solutions for phosphorus reduction in the Grand Lake Saint Marys watershed, which was the focus of their projects. Many of them came to the realistic conclusion that there is no "one-way" to solve an environmental problem, rather they are much more complex and require a multi-faceted approach. We had to share some of the reflective thoughts posted by students that make us appreciate great teachers that make learning relevant and meaningful. They came up with some really thoughtful questions and comments that made us glad we were able to participate. We've got 16 and 17 year olds talking about engineered wetlands!

After presenting our solution, it dawned on me how much I actually learned from this, and made me respect all of the scientists trying to figure out a solution.”

”I am now more aware of how big of an issue water pollution in Ohio is. After listening to the experts comments, I can tell that the impact they left on the class was significant, and that there are very few people who are unenlightened about this topic.”

”My questions is about the cost and effectiveness of the engineered wetlands. Would it have to be constantly monitored to see its effectiveness? Overall, I really enjoyed this project due to its real life implications, and the interesting discussions with the MAD Scientist Associates. I loved everyone’s ideas and the creativity that we were able to display, especially as this is an ongoing problem not just in Ohio.

Surprise gift from a fellow nature lover

As a thank you for our role in the Highlands Park wetlands enhancement project, local nature photographer Bill Baird dropped by our office this fall to surprise us with a framed copy of one of his beautiful Great Blue Heron photos from the Highlands wetlands.  Thanks so much to Bill!

Stratford Road low-head dam removal

MAD Scientist Associates LLC (MAD) was proud to assist the City of Delaware and other partners to continue the important work of restoring the Olentangy River. Twenty-two miles of the Olentangy River are designated as State Scenic River, but much of the waterway has been impacted by rapid urbanization and hydro-modifications. MAD was contracted to conduct mussel surveys and obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the removal of two low-head dams just upstream of the State Route 23 bridge. A Nationwide Permit #27 for Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment, and Enhancement Activities was received this past spring. In preparation for demolition activities, mussels in the work area were relocated and, during low flow summer conditions,the dams were successfully removed. The river has since returned to a more natural flow regime, with expanding beds of water willow and free-flowing riffles and runs providing valuable in-stream habitat. We commend the City of Delaware for taking on this project. We were pleased to play a small role in the restoration of one of Ohio’s beautiful rivers and we look forward to similar opportunities in the future!

Westerville - Spring Valley Greenway Grand Opening

On October 3, MAD Scientist Associates, City of Westerville Parks & Recreation, and Ohio EPA came together with community members for the dedication and grand opening of the Spring Valley Greenway.  This event included a volunteer planting opportunity, invasives control, waterway education, stream exploration, and a wildflower giveaway.

The City of Westerville received a grant from Ohio EPA to restore and enhance parts of the Spring Valley stream, a headwater tributary of Alum Creek. To prevent bank erosion, unnatural materials were used to "armor" the bank, which now need to be removed. Within the project area, the stream will be restored to a more natural state for the benefit of water quality and in-stream habitat.

Make a Difference Day success!

With help from our IGOR (Incredible Group Of Recruits) and FACT (Friends of Alum Creek and Tributaries ) volunteers, MAD staff led the planting of over 100 sapling trees and removed invasive honeysuckle bushes from throughout City of Westerville's neighborhood Boyer Nature Preserve.  It turned out to be a beautiful morning to work at Boyer. There were nearly 30 volunteers pulling honeysuckle and planting native trees and shrubs.  A special thanks to The Ohio State University students and local Girl Scouts who were a big help!

MAD Honored with Franklin SWCD Great Blue Heron Award

MAD Scientist Associates, LLC has been recognized for their contributions to conservation through their promotion of wetlands, education outreach, and continuous support in community conservation efforts in Franklin County.  MAD Scientist Associates was awarded the Great Blue Heron Award from Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District

MAD Scientist Associates a longtime supporter of Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District. MAD Scientist Associates has assisted Franklin Soil and Water and Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation in establishing a Creekside buffer in Huber Park and provided volunteers for our annual tree sale, where we provide low cost tree seedlings and native plants to local residents.  Every year this firm participates in events within the City of Westerville, including the annual Party at the Creek nature festival in Westerville.  They recently held their 16th annual Wetlands Workshop for families at Highlands Park.  They also participated in Make A Difference Day where they removed invasive species and planted native trees and shrubs at Boyer Nature Preserve.

Mark Dilley, co-owner of MAD Scientist Associates with his wife Christine Dilley, is a Professional Wetland Scientist and Certified Senior Ecologist with over 20 years of experience in wetland science, field biology, ecology, and environmental studies.  Dilley received the Ohio Alliance for the Environment Award from the Environmental Education Council of Ohio (EECO) in the spring of 2015, an award “given to businesses in Ohio that are dedicated to fostering a climate of cooperation for resolving environmental problems.” Mark Dilley has also served as a board member and is currently an associate board member who provides guidance and assistance to the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District board and staff.

The Great Blue Heron Award recognizes outstanding contributions in natural resources and stream protection within Franklin County. Franklin Soil and Water recognizes the importance of partnerships to the sustainability and success of its mission to protect and improve soil and water resources, and is pleased to recognize MAD Scientist Associates, LLC with this award.

Fine Tuning Leadership Skills


Kudos to our co-owner and CEO, Christine Dilley, for devoting time to fine tuning her business leadership skills in running our company.  She has been working all year with Your Management Team using FastTrac GrowthVenture for the Female Entrepreneur curriculum as part of the SBA Scale Up America initiative for small business owners to provide more jobs and have a greater impact on the local economy. Since beginning the program, our company has made great strides in reaching our goals for improving our systems and expanding our business. 

Love nature?  See through the eyes of our MAD Scientists!

Love nature?  See through the eyes of our MAD Scientists by viewing photos and wildlife videos from our field excursions.  Check out our MAD Scientist Associates Facebook page or follow us on Instagram and Twitter

MAD receives EECO 2015 Ohio Alliance for the Environment Award

Congratulations to Mark A. Dilley on winning the Ohio Alliance for the Environment Award from EECO (Environmental Education Council of Ohio) on Saturday, April 11, 2015 during their Annual Conference at Maumee Bay State Park Lodge. This award is given to businesses in Ohio that are dedicated to fostering a climate of cooperation for resolving environmental problems. 

He was nominated by staff and had several wonderful letters of recommendation from local school district representatives.  Way to go Mark!

16th Annual Wetlands Workshop at Highlands Park

On May 16th, MAD Scientist Associates and City of Westerville Parks & Recreations Dept. held its 16th annual Wetlands Workshop.  Over 70 community members took part in learning about wetlands from our team and at exploration stations.  Families scooped through the water with nets and mucked through the mud to discover the aquatic wildlife of the wetlands at Highlands Park.