Metro Parks flourish thanks to our volunteers

Metro Parks is fortunate to have a wonderful corps of volunteers who devote more than 33,000 hours of their time to Metro Parks every year. We couldn’t do what we do without their passion and support for Metro Parks. Here is a brief story about three of our 1,300 volunteers.

John Lorenz – Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Man searches a seining net for aquatic animals
Volunteer John Lorenz looks for aquatic animals in a seining net. Photo/John Nixon

John has volunteered with Metro Parks since 1991 and has a special interest in water and stream quality. The pristine Big Darby Creek is a favorite. He helps at many stream quality monitoring (SQM) programs at Battelle Darby Creek.

John is known as the Cricket Man, because he raises 3,000 crickets per week and donates them to Metro Parks. They’re used to feed animals in the living stream at the park’s nature center. Kids love to take part in the feeding frenzy and watch as fish, frogs and turtles compete for their meal. John’s wife, Karen, has also volunteered at Metro Parks since 2012.

Jan Hatfield – Slate Run Living Historical Farm

Volunteer Jan Hatfield (left) works with Interpretive Aide Natelle Ball to prepare lunch in the Slate Run Farm kitchen. Photo/Frank Kozarich

Jan has volunteered at at Slate Run Living Historical Farm since 1992. As a retired 9th grade science teacher, Jan loves to interact with visitors. She says, “It’s amazing what I’ve learned about farming in the 1880s and I love the opportunity to teach visitors about it.” Jan volunteers more than 100 hours every year and is at the farm at least once every week. She loves working in the barn and the gardens, but especially loves cooking on the farm’s wood-burning stove.

Rajat Saksena – Highbanks Metro Park

Rajat Saksena at Highbanks. Photo/Jesse Bethea

Rajat volunteers at Highbanks and enjoys helping with the annual butterfly survey. Butterflies are monitored every week from April to October in a particular stretch of land. At the end of the survey, Rajat compiles the results and submits them to our Resource Management team. He also monitors bluebird boxes on some of the most remote trails at Highbanks.

In 2019, Rajat won the volunteer of the year award for his dependability and his passion for citizen science projects and other activities. As a Ph.D. candidate at The Ohio State University, Rajat has reached out to many fellow students in an effort to recruit younger people as volunteers for the parks.