Soils and Fertility workshops

The Mahoning County Ohio State University Extension office and the Mahoning County Farm Bureau will be hosting a workshop focusing on maintaining your gardens and landscapes with understanding what your soil needs and does not need.  Join OSU Extension to begin your journey of understanding soil and fertility while safeguarding water quality and the environment!

You have choices! The workshop will be held on two separate days, October 10th and October 11th. Contact the OSU Extension office at (330) 533-5538 for more information!  

A Great Ending for a Yellow Creek Watershed Project

Project collaborators pictured (from left the right): Mr. Dave Purins, Principal at Poland Middle School/McKinley Elementary; Mr. John Woolard, Stormwater Administrator for the Mahoning County Engineer's Office; Mayor Tim Sicafuse, Poland Village Mayor; Mr. Dave Janofa, Superintendent of Poland Local School District; Mr. Ryan Tekac, Director of Environmental Health at the Mahoning County District Board of Health; Ms. Lisa Iberis, Assistant Principal at Poland Middle School/McKinley Elementary; Ms. Stephanie Dyer, Environmental Program Manager at Eastgate; Ms. Joanne Wollet, Poland Township Trustee; and Ms. Elinor Zedaker, Chairwoman of the Poland Municipal Forest Board. 

The Yellow Creek Watershed Stormwater Education Sign project, "You are Here: A Snapshot of the Yellow Creek Watershed", ended on Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 with the unveiling of a sign at Poland Village Hall.  The last and final sign for the project was held off until Tuesday to bring the project full circle to Village Hall where the stormwater education conversation began.  Yellow Creek was flowing steadily in the background, as Eastgate's Stephanie Dyer thanked everyone for the tremendous amount of time and effort spent collaborating with Eastgate and one another. A special thanks to collaborator Mill Creek MetroParks for designing the permanent sign design as well as to Poland High School's Multimedia Production Teacher, Mr. Patrick Williams, and McKinley Middle School's Science Teacher, Mr. Ken Cullar for their participation/involvement in the project! This project will help present and future Yellow Creek residents and students understand stormwater and the changing dynamics of Yellow Creek and its surrounding land uses.

What is your Sign?

A sign can have many meanings today.  Signs direct our travels, tell us what we need to do, or advertise something we need, while others like astrological signs, describe who we are or what personality type we are.  What happens when a person comes across a sign is really up to them.

Stormwater Sign in Yellow Creek Park

The Urban Stormwater effect

When it rains, it pours and we have all been affected by the pouring effect of stormwater.  The following diagram illustrates the stormwater cycle in a natural environment:

 Now compare that to the diagram of an urban stormwater cycle:

For the remainder of this post, let's focus on the percentage difference of runoff in each diagram. Whether we realize it or not, we have modified the nature's cycle.  There are many factors adding to the "pouring" effect of rainfall trends.  Factors such as impervious surfaces (driveways, parking lots), developing within floodplains or along side a stream channel, removing streamside vegetation, stream channelization (the straightening of a stream), or enclosing a stream within a pipe all have negative impacts on landowners and water quality.  However, this does not have to be a dooms day sentence for property owners or community officials! There are many things YOU and your communities can do to lessen the impact of stormwater:
  • Embrace riparian setbacks;
  • Encourage  green infrastructure stormwater measures;
  • Establish a rain garden;
  • If you live adjacent to a stream establish a no mow area;
  • Keep your streets free of excess nutrients (grass clippings, leaves, fertilizers) by sweeping up after your yard work.  (check out Franklin Soil and Water's "Get Grassy" program for more yard tips).
 Explore AWARE's blogsite and our members materials, under "Partnering Agency Projects" or "Publications", for more information about how you can personally lighten the load.

Remember, everything rainfall touches is carried into a nearby stream.  Oil, sediment, trash, fertilizer, animal waste are all pushed directly into a near by stream or into the stormdrain system that transports stormwater INTO a nearby stream!

2017 Water Quality Celebration!

Let's talk....

 about the region's water quality! 

The Mahoning County Farm Bureau is hosting a Water Quality Celebration at the Mill Creek MetroParks Farm on June 22, 2017 from 4:30pm to 8:30pm.  Mark your calendars and join the farm bureau, local ag. experts, and members of AWARE for an interactive evening that is sure to have you reaching YOUR watershed moment. 

Many activities will take place through out the evening: composting seminar*, make your own rain barrel demonstrations, drone demonstrations, raffle drawings, and more!  Make time to stop by member displays to discuss water quality, gain knowledge, or receive answers to your water quality questions! 

When it comes to improving or protecting our region's water quality, we are all in this together!  

*The composting seminar requires preregistration through the Mahoning County Green Team.   You can access the registration form on the Mahoning County Green Team's home page here.The form will look like this when it is downloaded:


Watershed Moment

I came across the term "watershed moment" one day when researching for ideas for an upcoming event's theme.  I am sure to have heard the terms used before, but curiosity caused me to find out what exactly the term meant.  According to the website Quora a watershed moment is "a point in time that marks an important, often historical change".  This is an interesting meaning to the idea, but here are some other interpretations of what it means:
  • "A watershed moment is when everything changes".  - P. Messaline
  • "A visible turn in direction for some trend or pattern".  - G. Allen
  • "Essentially a watershed moment marks a major historical point after which there is no going back". - J. Gordon
  • " A moment in time where everything changes". - T. Krekel
Water Quality Education should be one of those topics that creates a "visible turn in direction for some trend or pattern".  Can you think of some water quality trend trend or pattern that is in need of a turn in direction?  Share your thoughts with AWARE by submitting your thought. 

Happy World Water Day!

Happy World Water Day AWARE viewers! In 1993 the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22nd of each year World Water Day.  As members of AWARE it is our mission to share our professional and citizen knowledge of water quality management practices with our local watershed residents and community leaders. This year the theme for World Water Day is  "Why waste water?" and how how to reduce wastefulness of our water resources and the reuse of wastewater. For AWARE's purpose, we will focus on the reuse of household wastewater, or better known as grey water.
Grey water is wastewater that has not come in contact with feces.  It is "gently" used waste water from our household sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines.  Grey water may contain traces of grease, dirt, food, and household cleaning products, but is still safe to use as a watering source for our landscaping, flowers, plants, and lawn. Grey water can be used to water vegetable gardens as long as it does not come in contact with the edible parts of the plant. Depending on where you live and based on local building and/or plumbing codes and health department regulations, grey water reuse from  sinks, showers, and tubs may or may not be permissible. So check with your local codes and regulations first!!

In the event your area allows for greywater reuse, a simple start can begin with your washing machine.  Assuming one does not use chlorine bleach or harsh laundry detergent (most if not all are phosphate free)  a simple disconnection of the discharge hose is all it takes.  Of course you will need to provide an alternative direction for the discharge, so it is appropriate to suggest a containment system.  Think of a rain barrel setup outside accepting the discharge water from your washing machine!

For more information about greywater reuse, the Ohio State University Extension has a fact sheet available to view here.  

Are there ways you are preventing wastefulness of our water resources? Let us know by simply  sending us a message on the "Share Your Thoughts!" link on our blogsite.

Because nothing is perfect- 2017 Resolutions

There is a little "Calvin" in all of us! This Calvin and Hobbes excerpt from Bill Watterson's comic  is a reminder of how some resolutions are approached.   

At the January 2017 AWARE meeting, each attendee was asked to fill out a 2017 AWARE Resolution.  The responses are reminiscent of how AWARE's name change in 2009 redefined the group's purpose. Prior to 2009 AWARE was known as the Alliance for Watershed Education and Riparian Easements. A slight name change came after it was realized people may not know what a watershed or riparian easement was and therefore overlooked the group's significance. AWARE re-branding itself for education and outreach purposes and recognized the citizens and organizations involved with AWARE were educators in their respective positions.  AWARE morphed into a new role and became the Alliance for Watershed Action and Resource Education.

Because nothing is perfect, AWARE continues to grow in its outreach efforts.  The 2017 Resolutions made by AWARE are nothing short of obtainable.  They are possible, inclusive, and in need of everyone's help in order to achieve them.  Won't you consider making your own resolution or taking up a resolution and making it happen?  If not for yourself or agency, than for the improvement of our watershed's water quality? 

View 2017 AWARE Resolutions here.

Fertilizer Application Certification- Protecting Surface Waters

September 30, 2017 is the deadline for farmers to receive fertilizer application certification.  As per the Ohio SB150 farmers who farm 50 acres or more are required to take a 2-3 hour training course to receive the certification. See WKBN's news report about the new Nutrient Management requirement.

Why is fertilization management important?
It is important to note proper fertilization goes beyond the confines of a farmer, although this law only pertains to them.  Proper fertilization application can fall into the responsibility of land and homeowners who use fertilizers on their properties.  Fertilizers, when applied in excess amounts and at the wrong time can easily runoff into our local surface waters during a rain storm via neighborhood storm drains and roadside ditches. 

What can I do?
Before you sign you name to a commercial lawn maintenance company or buy your several bags of spring and summer fertilizers, perform a simple soil test!  A soil test is a cost effective way to see what exactly your lawn needs to maintain proper health.  Ask your commercial lawn company if they perform soil samples PRIOR to executing your lawn care contract.  If not, take the sample yourself and submit it to or one of several ag co-op centers who can prepare your sample for analysis.  You sample may show your lawn only need nitrogen or the pH adjusted. 

The Decision is yours...
The question you may want to ask BEFORE you sign on the line is how much GREEN do I want to keep in my pocket this year? The choice is yours, but your lawn, wallet, and surface waters will  thank you for taking the extra step.

For more information about soil sampling contact the following agencies:

Mahoning County Farm Bureau: 1-800-410-4613

Mahoning County OSU Extension Office: (330) 533-5538

Mahoning Soil and Water: (330) 740-7995

Fresh Coast Capital and AWARE

What do Fresh Coast Capital (Fresh Coast) and AWARE have in common? Take a look at Fresh Coast's website,, to see how we share common grounds (or roots...hint, hint).


A Boardman School is Composting!

Congratulations to Boardman Glenwood Jr. High School on receiving a $16,053 Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF) Grant! Students at the school will use the funds to reduce their waste by ~35% by composting waste in an EarthTub composting system. The composting will connect the idea of composting to issues facing the lakes within the Mill Creek MetroParks' lakes. In addition, the project will incorporate a compost day to educate school staff and community members about the benefits of using compost. At the conclusion of the project, bags of compost will be donated to community members,including parents, teachers, business owners and urban/community gardens.

Boardman Glenwood Jr. High applied for a OEEF General Grant, where funding requests are greater than $5,000, grant requests can be up to $50,000, and applications become more competitive. To put the award into perspective a total of $247,874 in general OEEF funds was awarded to 6 other entities  including Oberlin College, Ohio University, Columbus Green Building Forum, Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, the Toledo Zoo, and Earth Day Coalition. The OEEF program acquires its funding from 1/2 of the civil penalties collected from violations of Ohio's air and water pollution control regulations.

Congratulations again Boardman Glenwood Jr High for what will be a great project that is sure to continue bringing attention to our region and the value of our surface waters!!