Monday, July 20, 2020

Darke County Parks educates visitors through interpretive signage

If you haven’t taken a walk through the pollinator meadow on the south side of the Bish Discovery Center’s parking lot, you’ve missed out on a variety of bumble bees, butterflies, dragonflies and more that call this habitat “home”. This meadow has been growing and evolving for the past 2-3 years from the original seeding, followed by subsequent planting through grants and support from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Pollinator Partnership. With all of these plants being native and many being perennial, we are just now reaching the ideal flowering seasons as many of these species spend a year or more setting root before really putting on a show! This habitat is prime real estate for pollinators, but was lacking signage explaining what the public was experiencing. With that in mind, a grant was sought out in order to develop the above-mentioned signage. This project fit the requirements for a grant offered through the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) and was applied for last fall.

After receiving confirmation that their request for funds for interpretive signage had been granted from the NAI, Darke County Parks’ staff went to work on the project right away. The sign was designed in house by naturalist Megan Schmidt and sent to Pannier Graphics. Pannier Graphics printed the design on a 30”x 20” fiberglass embedded panel. Once the printed sign was received, lumber for the frame and protective Lexan was ordered from Ansonia Lumber Company. The construction of the frame was completed by long-time parks volunteer Bill Rich. Sign installation was completed by parks maintenance staff and the project was officially completed July 15th, 2020.

This spring and summer has been unique for everyone. With the coronavirus forcing many to stay at home, the park trails experienced even more visitors than usual. Individuals and families can visit the Bish Discovery Center and walk through the pollinator field anytime from dawn to dusk. Upon entering the field, visitors can now stop to read the interpretive sign that explains the importance of pollinators and also encourages readers to do their part. The pollinator sign serves as an educational tool for the park district, where staff may not always be available, visitors can read the sign and learn more about the importance of the habitat they are visiting.

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