Stephanie Walton, Chief of Marketing & Communications

Paul and Christine Schweigert met at Firestone Metro Park.

Life is full of meaningful moments. With 100 years of history, how many memories have been created right here in your Summit Metro Parks?

For many residents, those priceless recollections include visits to the parks with their families. When her four now-grown children were small, Sujata Patel remembers visits to Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton for “hiking, exploring, looking for fish in the ponds, picnics at the picnic tables and in the lawn by the boathouse, and hours of discovering various parts of nature. When I homeschooled, we would go to Pheasant Run and run the loop several times. …

A look back at March 2020 to June 2021

Photo by Rob Blair

It’s been a unique and challenging year, and while we’ve seen more of you than ever in the parks and on our spree trails, we are thrilled to finally be able to welcome you back into our facilities. As always, our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones to the pandemic, and we are eternally grateful for the support from our community that allowed us to keep parks and trails safely open, continue to provide nature-based programming and launch our centennial year.

In case you missed it, here are some of the projects we completed and ways we stayed connected with Summit County residents from March 2020 to June 2021:

  1. Record visitation and spree participation In 2020, SMP saw a 20 percent increase in visitation compared to recent years, equating to an additional one million visits to our parks! Camping was particularly popular, with reservations up by 23 percent at Nimisila Reservoir Metro Park. At17,000 finishers, participation in the Fall Hiking Spree also reached an all-time high.

Joe Malmisur, Interpretive Naturalist

stock image

When the first Europeans began to settle what is now known as Ohio, forests covered roughly 95 percent of the land.

However, by 1910 forests covered only 10 percent of our state. With the forest habitat gone, so too went the black bear. The last of these original Ohio black bears was killed in 1881.

Today, these amazing mammals have returned. Though small in number, they can be found roaming through Summit County from time to time. Their homecoming was made possible by the foresight of visionaries in natural resources management and efforts by the Summit Metro Parks conservation department to plant trees and connect green spaces in places like Liberty Park in Twinsburg. If you’re lucky…

Mike Johnson, Chief of Conservation

SMP Watershed Specialist Elaine Marsh

Elaine Marsh is currently serving as the park district’s watershed specialist and is a warrior for clean water, air and land. Elaine has worked tirelessly over her career to improve the rivers, streams and wetlands of our region.

Elaine co-founded Friends of the Crooked River, a nonprofit dedicated to good stewardship of our water resources. Prior to joining Summit Metro Parks, she has held leadership roles with Ohio Greenways and Cleveland Waterfront Coalition.

Chris Chaney, Park Biologist

The park district’s pine tree saplings at Everett Rd. Nursery, June 1928

As we celebrate the park district’s centennial anniversary this year, we are also marking 100 years of conservation, preservation and connecting people to nature in Summit County.

Christy Counterman, Marketing Assistant & Janean Kazimir, Interpretive Naturalist

Girl Scout Tree Planting Festival on April 30, 1966 at Virginia Kendall Park

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have had a long history alongside Summit Metro Parks. Even before the park district was founded, Boy Scouts were camping at what is now Gorge Metro Park in a cabin they built dubbed “Old Slabsides.” Our mutual friendship has flourished ever since, officially beginning in the 1920s when the Girl Scouts hosted tree plantings at Sand Run and Goodyear Heights Metro Parks. Over the years, Scouts have recreated in our parks as well as volunteered time and talent to grow them into what they are today, thus inspiring new generations of caretakers for our “Green Islands.”

Megan Shaeffer, Ph.D., Cultural Resource Coordinator

F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm was dedicated in 1966.

Many people know Franklin Augustus Seiberling as one of the co-founders of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. F.A., along with his brother Charles, opened the first factory in Akron in 1898 and his innovations and patents helped the company fuel tremendous economic growth in Northeast Ohio in the early twentieth century.

Marlo Perdicas, Park Biologist

Eastern bluebirds photo by Jerry Cannon

The eastern bluebird has delighted Ohioans for decades with its flashy coloration and conspicuous behavior. In the early 20th century, bluebird populations saw rapid decline due to habitat loss, pesticide use and the introduction of non-native birds such as the European starling and house sparrow.

In 1978, the North American Bluebird Society was founded to promote education and conservation of the species. The society led a continent-wide effort to place nesting boxes throughout their range. Together with our volunteers, Summit Metro Parks has monitored bluebird nest boxes since the 1970s.

Long-time volunteer Lew Monagen has monitored the same boxes in Hampton Hills and O’Neil Woods Metro Parks since the establishment of our official monitoring program in 1993.

“Over the years I’ve had a lot of encouragement from folks like former park district employee Bert Szabo and the Akron Audubon Society. My…

Peg Bobel, Cultural Resource Specialist

F.A. Seiberling (photo courtesy of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens)

One hundred years ago, Ohioans and the rest of the nation were still recovering from the 1918 influenza pandemic that took the lives of 675,000 Americans and upended the lives of many others. The “Great War” was also barely in the rear-view mirror.

But now things were looking up — in Akron, the growing rubber industries were hiring thousands of new factory workers and the city was growing by leaps and bounds. Much of the work, however, was dirty and backbreaking, with workers putting in long days. Nonetheless, progress was being made on shortening work hours and laborers found they had more leisure time. Popular nature writers such as John Burroughs were inspiring everyday folks to get outside and experience the physical and spiritual benefits of nature. …

Meghan Doran, Assistant Education & Recreation Manager

Prothonotary warbler photo by Sheila Stransky

What does “ethical birding” mean to you?

How can birding be ethical? The answer is quite simple - it is making decisions and taking actions that are based on moral principles and personal beliefs of doing no harm while pursuing an activity, in this case, birding.

Summit Metro Parks

Summit Metro Parks manages 14,000 acres, 16 parks and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at

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