September 26, 2008

Volunteering Way of Life for White


A trip to the Narrows Nature Center led to Nancy A. White becoming a Greene County Parks volunteer, which led to her involvement with the Settlers Celebration at the Indian Mound Reserve.

While attending a program at Wright State University, she met Cris Barnett, the Greene County Parks' chief naturalist, and took her up on her invitation to visit the Narrows Reserve Nature Center on Indian Ripple Road in Beavercreek.

"My husband and I were captivated by the activity outside the bird room at the nature center and we promptly went home to develop our own bird sanctuary outside our sunroom," said White, who lives in Sugarcreek Twp. with her husband, Patrick White.

Since then she's helped with many park programs, such as the annual Settlers Celebration at the Indian Mound Reserve at 2750 U.S. 42 South in Cedarville that will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this weekend, Sept. 27-28.

The event will feature the region's cultural heritage, including American Indians, blacks during the Underground Railroad era and Ohio's early settlers. It includes exploration of an ancient Adena Indian mound, period music and entertainment, period exhibitors selling and trading their wares, information on the Underground Railroad and period craftsmen from woodcarvers and tinsmiths to candle makers and weavers.

There will be hands-on activities, horse-drawn wagon rides, exhibitor demonstrations, period foods and homemade apple cider. It's a free event but $5 donations to the park will be used to benefit Greene County Parks programs, projects and park improvements.

"Volunteering is a way of life for many retirees and I am no exception. The benefits to the volunteer far outweigh those to the organization. We are able to use our lifelong skills and develop new ones, meet knowledgeable people, make new friends, visit extraordinary places and never stop learning. Working on the planning committee for the Greene County Parks' Settlers Celebration, I have done all of the above," she said.

The Dayton native earned at degree in education from Wright State University and a master's degree in education from the University of Dayton. She started out teaching kindergarten at Mad River Local Schools.

"As my interest in science and math grew, I moved up the grade levels to fifth and sixth grades, where I became more involved in space education and environmental science," she said, adding that after she retired from teaching in 1998, she found she still wanted to be around children.

"I began attending volunteer training sessions at the Narrows nature center and participated in the late winter Sugar Maple program, seasonal hikes and summer camps," said White, who became an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist through the Ohio State University Extension Service.

One of the projects she became involved in for the parks was the development of history boxes filled with items used by Ohio pioneers in the late 18th century and another box that is filled with items used to teach about the Underground Railroad in Greene County.

"These history boxes and several fall programs evolved three years ago into the current Settlers Celebration, she said, noting that the program includes Friday events for students only.

"We provide the program for nearly 300 Greene County children. It is hoped that the students will return over the weekend with their entire families to enjoy the rest of the events," she said.

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