Planting Native Brightens Future Environments

Planting Native for Our Future by Jill Kirby

As I enjoy the mid-70’s temperature on this mid-February day, I can’t help but experience mixed emotions. I love the relief of a warm Winter Day as much as anyone, yet I can’t shake the feeling of anxiety. I know in my heart that I should be cold right now! Since my son was born in 2019, my climate anxiety has been through the roof, and I worry constantly about how different his world may be from the one I grew up in. To combat this feeling, I decided to get my hands dirty (literally) and start growing native plants. As I continue to learn about native plants, their benefits and diversity I become more optimistic about the future.

Order Today via the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy

Native Plant Sale_2023

Native plants are those which grow in the region where they have evolved for thousands of years. This is so important because these are the plants that have also fed and sheltered the local insects and animals evolving alongside them during that time. These native plants and animals have come to depend on one another for survival. While exotic plants and alien species from outside of a region can be beautiful, they rarely support the local ecosystem and cannot nourish the many specialist pollinators that have evolved to rely on only one specific plant. This information is powerful. If we wish to restore declining insect populations that support the greater food web, selecting native plants is the way to achieve this goal. As the saying goes “If something isn’t eating your plants, then your garden isn’t a part of the ecosystem”.

The environmental benefits of using native plants go beyond increasing biodiversity. Because they are well adapted to the area, native plants are generally low-maintenance, conserve water, improve soil quality, and lead to the reduced use of herbicides and pesticides. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), there are about 1,800 native flowering plant species in Ohio. With this assortment, it is possible to include unique, rare, colorful, showy, edible, medicinal, and seasonally interesting plants in a native garden.

While I know I will always experience a level of climate anxiety, learning about and growing native plants over the past year has made it possible for me to keep moving forward and feel hope. To share and say everything I would like to in this article feels impossible so instead I will leave you with an invitation to follow the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy on Facebook and Instagram. I will be sharing additional thoughts, resources, and answering questions about native plants on these platforms and I would love to connect with you there.

Put-in-Bay School News Features Artists

March Newsletter 2023, by Scott Mangas ~ Superintendent

Billboard Winner

Meredith Cooper, a fifth grader at Put-In-Bay School, won a three-county billboard design contest in February. Meredith submitted a design that features a visual of a 1960s-era “hippie” girl flashing a peace sign, with a head- line that reads, “Recycle — Save Trees, Dude!”

The billboard design contest is sponsored annually by the Ottawa/Sandusky/Seneca Solid Waste District, and is open to all fifth-grader residents. The contest’s purpose is to “raise awareness of Earth Day” and to “encourage residents to reduce, reuse, recycle and not litter.”In April, the billboard will be installed on Route 163 in Port Clinton, near the Jet Express dock.  Put-In-Bay   art instructor Jody Amsden submitted Meredith’s entry along with the entire fifth grade class for consideration.

Toledo Museum of Art

Artwork from three Put-In-Bay School students is on display at the Toledo Museum of Art, as a result of submitting their work to the Arts Commission of Toledo.  In January, the 40th Annual Invitational Ninth Congressional District Art Exhibition solicited submissions from high school artists in Ottawa, Lucas, Erie, Wood, Sandusky, Fulton and Williams Counties.

From Put-In-Bay School, the following artists are being recognized:
Macy Ladd, a senior, submitted “Wayfaring”, a watercolor painting of a sailboat.


Alice Lentz, a senior, submitted “The Debate of Black and White”, a tessellation print featuring a moon-and-sun motif.

Elias Wright, a sophomore, submitted “Summer Hummer”, a paper quilling depicting a hummingbird.  Among all submissions, one artwork will receive the Congressional First Award, which will have the honor of being displayed at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Other awards, including monetary prizes, will be assigned based on artistic merit.

The Arts Commission of Toledo solicited a maximum of three submissions from Put-In-Bay art instructor Jody Amsden in January.

Science Fair

We sent 8 projects to the District 2 Science Day held at the University of Toledo on March 11, 2023.  Final scores are as follows:

Nic Fiorilli/Aaron Hill/Caleb Kowalski – Excellent

Branden Breudigam – Excellent

Kate Hubner – Superior

Emma Michael – Superior

Joseph Blumensaadt – Superior

Alice Lentz – Superior

Macy Ladd – Superior

Having 5 students compete at the State level puts us in contention for the highly prestigious Shaw Award.

Additional awards:

Stranahan Arboretum Environmental Science Award for “Best Project Using Plants as the Main Component in a Problem Solving Situation” – First Place – $100 – Alice Lentz

Ohio Soybean Bioscience Award for “Best Project in the Area of Agriculture Using Soybeans” – $100 – Alice Lentz

NASA  – American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Award Joseph Blumensaadt

National Honor Society

The Put in Bay School Chapter of the National Honor Society has been busy this year! Service projects have included sending letters for Project Gratitude to veterans and active military, a food drive for our local pantry, and setting up a permanent online school spirit wear store through Terikyaki Designs based out of Marblehead. Visit to order school gear year-round!

NHS’s final service project will be a personal wellness and mental health week from April 24th through April 28th, as we help students learn to stop the stigma. NHS will be hosting a walk, collecting donations, and spreading the word on mental health to benefit the local National Alliance on Mental Illness during the Browns Backer 5k on Sunday, April 30th. Come stop by and show your support.

Environmental Club and NHS will be participating and hosting an event during this year’s Earth Week! Join us on Tuesday, April 18th, at 3:30. The PIB school clubs will be completing a clean-up for the Adopt-a-Highway litter program on Route 357 at Oak Point State Park. The public is welcome to join, including children ages 12+. Anyone aged 12-17 must have a parental release signed; these can be picked up at the main entrance of the school or will be available at the clean-up.

Island Resident to Knit Twelve Hours on Sunday for Food Insecurity Awareness

Island resident and gas station manager Heather Durdil will knit for twelve hours on Sunday to help bring awareness to Food Insecurity.  Ms. Durdil blogs at

The Knit for Food Knit-a-thon, a 12 hour crafting event in support of organizations feeding the hungry, is gearing up for its third annual event on Sunday, March 26, 2023 from 10am-10pm ET.


To support Heather’s endeavor, please visit Knit for Food Knit-a-Thon 2023!

The first Knit for Food Knit-a-thon was launched on March 8, 2021, with the goal of raising a total of $10,000 to be contributed to Feeding America, World Central Kitchen, No Kid Hungry, and Meals on Wheels. The event was a major success, raising more than $265,000 with 100% of the funds collected split evenly between the four organizations. In 2022 we raised over $271,000! That’s more than $500,000 raised by knitters.

Food insecurity has become a reality for even more Americans as the cost of basic food items has increased due to inflation. Far too many Americans struggle to put food on the table. Our participants are committed to raising funds to help ease this unnecessary suffering.

Put-in-Bay Talent Show Celebrates Community

First Place winner Rachel Cooper sang “Over the Rainbow.”

The 2023 Put-in-Bay Talent Show, produced by Madeline Pugh and hosted by Kevin Daly, roared to a successful ending with incredible performances by youth ranging in age from pre-school to high school.  Performances included singing, dance, choreographed storytelling, and twirling.

Second Place:  Vivian Scarpelli in dance.
Third Place: Nora Blumensadt and Evelyn Wertenbach in twirling.

Master of Ceremonies, Kevin Daly
Volunteer Judges
Susan Cooks, Heidi Ladd – Refreshment Committee