Earth Day: Celebrating public stewards of natural resources

Posted Apr. 19, 2023 by

As Earth Day, April 22, approaches we celebrate the public employees that are tasked with managing, preserving and studying Ohio’s natural resources. These public service employees work in a variety of agencies including, but not limited to, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

ODNR Geologist Brittany Parrick, who recently appeared on the cover of the union magazine, the Public Employee Quarterly, also did a recent television spot on NBC4 about what she does as a Geologist with the Ohio Geologic Survey. The segment was filmed live in their Columbus studio with Brittany sharing information about Ohio’s interesting geologic features. She even brought her prized fossilized sea sponge to share.

She explained that hundreds of millions of years ago, Ohio was completely under water and inhabited by sea creatures. She also encouraged young people to follow their curiosity and passion in the sciences. Besides studying the geology of Ohio and providing data about it to the public, she also visits classrooms, rock and mineral shows and the state fair to teach young people what she knows. “I love geology and to get other people to love it is even better,” she said. You can see Brittany's tv appearance HERE.

Adam Komar, a union activist with Knox/Licking Chapter 4500 and Forester with ODNR, recently helped head up a union member outreach event at Canters Cave for OCSEA's union Foresters.  At least 15 Foresters attended the union cookout/outreach on the heels of an ODNR Forestry Health Conference. Adam said the group of state Foresters hadn’t been together since the pandemic, so it was nice to touch base with them about things like their classifications, potential pay supplements and upcoming contract negotiations. Other union organizers were on hand to help distribute union information about the union’s educational benefit as well as vision and dental benefits.

As a Service Forester, Adam provides private landowners with forest management advice. “The vast majority of forests in Ohio are owned by private landowners,” he said. “So we provide no cost assistance to them about good forest stewardship and how to improve their land,” he said. He said Ohio is also part of a multi-state collaborative called “Call Before You Cut” that helps landowners reach their forest management goals. Ohio’s forestry program has been around since at least the ‘40s.

Adam said the biggest upcoming challenge in Ohio forestry will be the largest intergenerational land transfer this state has ever seen. “The younger generation needs to be aware of our services for helping people manage their forests,” he said. He said Ohio forests have a huge economic impact and are worth an estimated $28 billion annually.