The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) is utilizing the help of Masters of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) graduate students in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University to educate citizens of all ages on pollinators.
The initiative, started just one year ago, helps to create and improve pollinator habitat across Ohio. MENR students are serving as interns, providing vital start-up and continuing support to the new group, while gaining valuable experiences they can use in their future careers.
Marci Lininger, a Fish and Wildlife Biologist serving in the Ohio Ecological Services Field Office of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and former MENR graduate student serves as coordinator for the Initiative, but is quick to note she does not serve alone.
“The Initiative is a collaborative effort spread across multiple resource and action agencies, as well as schools, universities, non-profits and others,” Lininger said.
As coordinator, Lininger wears many different hats, including serving as a mentor for the interns.
“As a former MENR student I am trying to help pave the way for current and future students by providing them with opportunities to grow, learn and network with potential employers. The opportunities and experiences that I gained while attending Ohio State were invaluable and I want give back to the program that gave me the opportunity to really find the real me and flourish in my career aspirations,” Lininger said.
“Now a USFWS Wildlife Biologist, I want to inspire other students that they can do whatever they want to do if they work hard at obtaining it.”
Kim Chapman, a second year MENR student and Outreach and Education Intern for OPHI, is helping to develop a communications strategy for the Initiative. She is currently strengthening the group’s Facebook presence to help educate and stimulate dialogue on the topic of pollinators and awareness of collaborative efforts to create and improve pollinator habitat across Ohio. A website is in progress, which she hopes will complement their social media efforts and serve as the go-to source for information regarding pollinator education, state events and workshops and highlight the progress being made in pollinator conservation.
Other MENR students contributing to the Initiative are Claire Beck and Colleen Sharkey. They are participating, along with other OPHI partners, in monitoring activities on demonstration plots installed by Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and American Electric Power (AEP).
MENR Graduate Students (left to right) Colleen Sharkey, Kim Chapman and Claire Beck are interning with the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative.
On AEP’s New Albany campus, AEP is demonstrating practices to support pollinators and other wildlife species by planting and maintaining more native, wildlife-enhancing vegetation with the hope these practices can be easily translated to transmission line right-of-ways.
The pair, along with AEP staff Lindsey Forhan, set up monitoring plots and recorded species diversity information to establish baseline "before treatment" data for the entire site. This data will help project leaders understand the changes in wildlife abundance and diversity that can be expected from vegetation maintenance practices that focus on supporting pollinators and wildlife.
When the demonstration plots are planted next year, AEP and OPHI will provide outreach and education activities, opening up the demonstration plots to school children and community members for tours, field trips, and citizen science opportunities.
Source: Kim Chapman, 2nd year MENR Student and Marci Lininger, a Fish and Wildlife Biologist serving in the Ohio Ecological Services Field Office of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and former MENR graduate student