Birding venues honored by Chamber’s Prism judges

By: 
J. Patrick Eaken

Maumee Bay State Park was the perfect setting for the Toledo Metroparks to receive a Community Improvement Award at the 26th Annual Prism Awards for nearby Pearson Park and Howard Marsh.
        This year marks the first year anniversary of the newest Metropark and the 85th anniversary of one of the oldest Metroparks,     
        About 200 community leaders and guests were in attendance at the state park as Mercy Health St. Charles received the Non-Profit of the Year Award, Pete MacDonald State Farm was the Small Business of the Year, Three Girlz Urban Living was the New Business of the Year, and HOT Graphics was given the General Excellence Award.
        Even Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center, which hosted the event, was a winner, garnering the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce’s Silver Award.
        In March, author Mary Breymaier gave a presentation from her book about the history of Pearson Park during the park system’s annual March lecture series event and Metroparks Toledo public relations director Scott Carpenter reiterated some of that.
        “The park system began in 1928, and its first parks were former state-owned canal lands near the Maumee River in Maumee and Waterville,” Carpenter said. “Pearson was the first park outside the canal area. Known as the Banklands, Toledo Blade reporter George Pearson championed the cause of preserve the land for a public park. Citizens, including the East Toledo Club, even went door-to-door collecting ‘Pennies for Pearson,’
        “Ten years ago, Metroparks officially dedicated an addition known as Pearson North that essentially doubled the size of the park from 300 to 600 acres. Since then, every building in the park has been renovated. Both sides of the park have examples of wetlands, which are vital to the health of the environment and the survival of numerous plant and animal species. The original part of Pearson is one of the last remaining pieces of the Great Black Swamp, a notoriously wet area that was once nearly the size of the Florida Everglades.”
        Howard Marsh has already become a popular venue for the world’s birders, who are arrived here this weekend as part of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory’s Biggest Week in American Birding festival.
        “Howard Marsh, which opened the last weekend in April 2018, is the largest project in Metroparks 90-year history, and the second largest of the 16 parks in the system,” Carpenter said. “Eighteen months before Howard Marsh opened to the public, it was an agricultural field.
        “Today, more than 600 acres of the 1,000-acre property is functioning coastal wetland, which filters water runoff from surrounding land before it reaches Lake Erie. A channel extending from Lake Erie is the source of water for the marsh, which can be manipulated to promote the growth of beneficial marsh plants. Wildlife instantly took to Howard Marsh, and so did those who come to watch the amazing variety of birds we enjoy here in Lake Erie’s western basis.”
 
Lodge continues to renovate, grow
Since opening in 1991, Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center has continued to grow and be a staple in the community. It is the host for the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, which has already begun and runs through May 12.
“Within the last five years, we have updated our guest rooms and meeting spaces,” said Kendra Buchanan, director of sales at the lodge. “Within the last year, a new management company has come in with many exciting new updates. We are continuing to grow and maintain relationships with not only the community, but the friends and families that continue to visit with us year after year.”
For years Maumee Bay has been a huge supporter of local organizations such as Oregon Schools, Genoa Schools, Jerusalem Township, Clay Township and Oregon Fire and Rescue through donations for fundraisers and events.
“Maumee Bay also provides students at Clay High School with the opportunity to mentor with our employees two days a week to get experience working in a customer service environment,” Buchanan said. “We also provide a customer service training course to these students along with mock interviews prior to starting their mentor program. We also work with a group at Penta County Vocational with a resume writing and interviewing session to build their skills prior to job hunting.”
Maumee Bay also provides services to the Boy Scouts of America, local cross country teams, golf teams and Black Swamp Bird Observatory just to name a few.
The lodge also partners with local law enforcement to annually provide an active shooter/active threat training for all employees in the event that should occur while working. It also partners with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation annually for a safety walk through regarding employee areas and concerns for safety.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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