Bowling Green State University graduate students in Dr. Amilcar Challu’s environmental history seminar class developed a community-based history told along the hiking trails of the Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve in Bowling Green, Ohio. Funded by a grant from Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, “Stories in the Woods” introduces the public to the fascinating environmental history of this local nature preserve.
From April 10-May 31, 2021, ten signs located along the green trail of the Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve will narrate historical features of the park, from indigenous occupation, to farming, to the present preserve. QR codes on the signs connect visitors via their smartphones to the Stories in the Woods website, providing more information, primary sources and a short reflection. Community members of all ages are invited to visit the preserve for fresh air, captivating stories, and a rejuvenating walk in the woods.
Dani Tippmann, Plant Tradition Bearer of the Myaamia Nation and city park naturalists, Chris Gajewicz and Cinda Stutzman, will host the webinar “Honoring Our Plants” on Wednesday, April 21, from 3-4:30 p.m. Tippmann will share ecological information about the native and non-native plants in St. John’s Woods. Join the webinar at bgsu.edu/storiesinthewoods.
The preserve was originally established as a reserve freshwater well field for municipal use in 1946 but was never used for that purpose and became the Wintergarden Recreation Area. The current acreage of the preserve includes a significant portion of land once owned by S. W. St. John, an early Bowling Green resident, attorney, and gentleman farmer. In the 1990s, the land, then known as Wintergarden Park, changed its focus to environmental education and natural resources preservation and management. Now, the Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve encompasses 120+ acres of prairie, savanna, and swamp forests along with trails designed for passive recreation activities and nature observation. Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve is unique in that it is a semi-urban nature preserve and park which actively manages and maintains the land with a high degree of environmental value and offers professional outdoor environmental educational services to community.
Follow the project on Twitter using the hashtag #Storiesinthewoods. To learn more about the Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve, visit blogs.bgsu.edu/storiesinthewoods.