Text and Photos
By Deb Patterson
Nancy Nelson and Scott Fetters were recipients of the 2018 Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation’s Cattail Awards. The awards were presented at the annual WACF breakfast meeting Saturday morning, July 28.
Dr. Joan Szynal, WACF board chairman, stated the cattail award is presented each year to one or two people, tremendous volunteers, who work behind the scenes.
Szynal noted Nelson is the first person to arrive to help set up for the numerous events hosted at the WACF Levinson-LaBrosse Education Center and the last person to leave. Fetters, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the second recipient, has been instrumental in providing the WACF with $63,000 since 2010 through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Fetters has also been instrumental in working with WACF on removing invasive plant species on the foundation’s various properties.
Those present briefly heard from Dr. Jerry Sweeten, PhD, who recently retired from the University of Manchester and started a consulting firm. He has been retained as a consultant for the WACF. “We are at a place in the organization where we needed that ‘go to’ guy,” Szynal stated. She noted that individual would be the person to go to when buying a piece of wetland or a project in a creek.
Sweeten briefly discussed the mission of his consulting firm, which included professional environmental consulting and research, education, demonstration and partnerships. He also noted his work on the Eel River basin looking at nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus coming off agricultural fields and taking biological samplings.
Heather Harwood, executive director, talked about five site specific projects and the critical area projects currently underway. She noted through a watershed wide study, hot spots were identified on feeder streams and projects will focus on those areas. The five site specific projects all involve invasive specie removal at Gordy Lake Preserve and Turkey Creek tributary, aquatic vegetation management on Syracuse and Wawasee lakes, work at Between The Lakes Preserve, and at the education center.
Other presentations were made by Dave Brandes and Bob Fanning on the memory garden, located on Trail 1 at the education center. Brandes noted this garden will provide a location for ashes of loved ones to be spread, instead of in the lake. Plaques will be available for purchase in memory of that loved one. The garden overlooks the wetland and will provide seating for a quiet place. He also recognized those who made the garden possible. Fanning provided information on the creation of the statue, created by Rick Lemburg, which is the center of the garden.
Additionally, a part of the meeting is the recognition of outgoing board members and introduction of incoming board members. Sherry Swank, Sam Leman, Donn Baird and Dave Brandes were recognized for their years of service. Baird will continue serving as treasurer of WACF as a onboard member.
New board members will be Bill McCully, Tom Yoder and Shannon Silcox. Doug Yoder will take over as board chair in September with Chris Roberts as the vice chair.
Recognition was also given to Connor Grumme, who will be placing benches and doing native plantings as an Eagle Scout project; Andrew Kweder, an intern during the summer; and all the volunteers and past board members. Recognition was additionally given to the employees of Channel Marker who volunteered their time to provide the breakfast.