Mike Greene, Education & Recreation Manager

Over the nearly 60-year history of naturalists working for the park district, starting with our first naturalist Bert Szabo, we have deployed diverse tactics to help park users understand and appreciate the full value of their parks.


First Naturalist for the Akron Metropolitan Park District

Mike Greene, Education & Recreation Manager

Bert Szabo began his career with the Akron Metropolitan Park District in 1957.

While working as the area manager for Goodyear Heights Metro Park, early on he started presenting programs for schools, churches and other organizations before being appointed as the park district’s first chief naturalist in 1963. Among his many accomplishments at the park district, Szabo:


Christy Counterman, Marketing Assistant

The first Fall Hiking Spree lasted just two months, from October 1 to November 30, 1964. That inaugural year, 1,530 area residents each completed seven hikes in six parks for a total of 9.8 miles to earn the inaugural hiking staff.


Stephanie Walton, Chief of Marketing & Communications

In the heart of Akron lies a hidden oasis. Although it’s only a short drive from the city center, once you arrive at the 200-acre Valley View Area, you’ll find yourself transported to a land that feels miles away from civilization.

“Special” is the word most visitors use to describe this property, and this fall, you can experience this unique Summit County treasure for yourself. …


Megan Shaeffer, Ph.D., Cultural Resource Coordinator

Summit Metro Parks is unique in that it is the only county-level park district in Ohio with its own cultural resources staff. These staff members protect and conserve the historic and archaeological sites within the park district — work which would not have been possible without the efforts of Dr. Lynn Metzger.


Mike Johnson, Chief of Conservation

The river that burned is the river that’s turned…

In the 100 years Summit Metro Parks has been in existence, the local fishing experience has undergone drastic transformations.

In the 1970s, an angler wading in much of the Cuyahoga River would more likely catch cholera than fish. Decades of industrial and municipal pollution left…


Stephanie Walton, Chief of Marketing & Communications

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…


A look back at March 2020 to June 2021

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…


Joe Malmisur, Interpretive Naturalist

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…


Mike Johnson, Chief of Conservation

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.

Summit Metro Parks

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

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