Youngstown Rotary, Land Bank Kick Off ‘Operation Pollination’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Rotary Club of Youngstown and Mahoning County Land Bank will launch a new effort this month to foster pollinator species, simplify property maintenance and promote healthy habits.

As part of Operation Pollination, the two organizations will plant native wildflowers at four sites across the city. The first site, at the corner of Ohio and Lauderdale avenues on the North Side, will be unveiled on Earth Day, April 22.

“The Land Bank’s native wildflower strategy will create vibrant green spaces that support positive health outcomes for all nearby residents – people, birds, bees and butterflies,” said Gary Davenport, project coordinator for the Land Bank, in a statement. “It is a great kickoff to Operation Pollination’s partnership goal of supporting local wildlife with native plants.”  

Earlier this year, the land bank released the “Greening Guide: Greening Practices for Native Ecosystems” listing plants that are endemic to Mahoning County. The guide also includes environmentally friendly landscape designs and other recommendations.

“The environment was added last year as Rotary’s seventh area of focus, which are categories of service activities supported by global Rotary Foundation grants,” said Elaine Bozick, Rotary board member. “We believe that projects like Operation Pollination are critical, because pollinator habitats are disappearing faster than we can restore them. This timely collaboration brings a host of benefits, and we are hopeful that in the near future, other area Rotary clubs will join us in this meaningful work.”

Operation Pollination aims to promote the use of native flowers and plants that support local native wildlife and generally require much less mowing and maintenance. Landscaping based on native plants is also associated with less watering, better soil retention, reduced use of pesticides and fertilizers and a healthier environment, which, over the long term, can improve community health.

In addition to the Land Bank and Youngstown Rotary, Operation Pollination partners include MillCreek MetroParks, First Energy, the Mahoning Soil & Water Conservation District, the Rotary Club of Struthers and the Mahoning County OSU Extension’s Master Gardener program.

“The organizations and individuals involved all have a passion for the natural world and natural land management, which is why we are joining together to execute this initiative,” Davenport said. 

Pictured: Volunteers cast wildflower seeds into a freshly-prepared 40-foot-by-50-foot bed of shredded mulch to launch Operation Pollination, a new initiative of the Rotary Club of Youngstown with Mahoning County Land Bank and other collaborators. Image via Sarah Lowry.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.