Name game

Park visitors in Ohio easily ID trees thanks to Kiwanians.

By Sheldon Ocker, Bath Country Journal Magazine 
Reprinted from the Bath Country Journal by permission of ScripType Publishing

Mike Marks grows tropical bonsai trees in his house, and that’s not all.

“I have trees from four continents, 18 kinds of rainforest ficuses,” he says. “I like growing things, so yes, I like trees.”

What does that have to do with the Bath Richfield Kiwanis Club in Ohio? Marks is president of the club. Two things that Kiwanians do is look for projects that benefit charitable organizations and provide educational opportunities for kids.

According to club Vice President Sue Ann Phillipbar, Marks and club member Laura Yost proposed labeling trees as a Kiwanis project.

“This is something Mike and Laura have been working on for a long time,” Phillipbar says. “It’s kind of their project.”

So last year Marks branched out, pardon the expression, from merely nurturing trees in his home to implementing KNOT, which stands for Kiwanis Naming of Trees.

The essence of the Kiwanis project is to label trees by type, include their scientific name plus other information and a “fun fact.” According to Marks, the club approved the creation of 72 signs representing 25-30 types of trees, each sign printed with the common name of the tree, its genus and species, a picture of its bark, nut or flower and a fun fact, plus the Bath Richfield Kiwanis logo.

The entire club membership contributed and researched the fun facts used. Marks said four arborists contributed their time to help identify each tree and supply the scientific information.

Marks and Yost wanted to get a jump on winter, so when December began with mild temperatures, several club members started attaching the signs to preselected trees along the Carter-Pedigo Hiking Trails in Richfield Village.

“We put up 20 of them,” Marks says. “We wanted to get some of it done before the end of the year.

In addition, Marks wants to expand the project to other parks in Richfield and Bath Township. The Richfield Heritage Preserve, operated by the Richfield Joint Recreation District, is a likely destination. Marks also wants to label trees in at least one park in Bath, Ohio.

“This project has been one and a half years in the making,” says Marks.

A couple of fun facts about those newly labeled trees: The Shagbark Hickory can live for more than 350 years, and Native Americans use its milk to make corn cakes and hominy. And the Scots or Scotch Pine is a good nesting tree for owls.

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