We can use your help

Tax deductible contributions to the Green Ribbon Initiative will be used to support education and stewardship work in the Oak Openings Region.

To donate to the Oak Openings Habitat Protection and Restoration Fund, click here.

To donate to the Oak Openings Carbon Offset Fund, click here.

To make a general donation to the Green Ribbon Initiative, click on the donate button below. These funds will go to:


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Training the Next Generation of Land Stewards

The Nature Conservancy is now hosting “Field Fridays” for area University students. Each Friday from 1pm-4pm, university students are invited to Kitty Todd Preserve to experience hands-on restoration activities. The Nature Conservancy has created a schedule for the students with a wide range of valuable trainings and field experiences including: plant identification, selective use of herbicide to control invasive species, safe use and maintenance of power tools such as chainsaw and brush cutter, and seed collection and planting techniques for restoration projects. Students can also earn their wildland firefighting certification and participate on prescribed burns in the spring. Please contact ashlee.decker@tnc.org for more information or if you have a university group that would like to join.

Field Fridays give students a chance be immersed in the landscapes that that they are learning about.  These field lessons enhance classroom learning and give students the opportunity to use their knowledge to make in-field decisions. Students recognize that they need the applied skills in addition to their academics to be competitive in today’s job market. Josie Lindsey-Robbins, a master’s student from the Bowling Green State University, says, “Field Fridays are a great opportunity to learn important skills that will make me a more marketable employee. There isn’t a better way to learn than actually stepping into a project and getting hands on experience while also taking part in restoration or conservation efforts at the same time.”

Field Fridays had its origin several years ago when two passionate professors approached the Nature Conservancy with innovative ways to teach their classes.  Dr. Todd Crail from the University of Toledo began bringing his students to Irwin Prairie, a Ohio Department of Natural Resources preserve in Holland, Ohio, to remove invasive species. Conservation and university staff noticed a positive impact on the students’ learning and the improved ability to apply what they were learning to complex situations. Students worked together and had a sense of achievement at the end of each day. Not only were the students benefiting, but the quality of Irwin Prairie greatly improved with the removal of common and glossy buckthorn. It was a win-win situation that turned into a solid relationship. Another opportunity to build a relationship came when Dr. Helen Michaels from Bowling Green State University approached the Nature Conservancy about incorporating field experience into her Restoration Ecology course. Kitty Todd Nature Preserve in Swanton, Ohio, was the perfect place for these in field demonstrations, beinga centerpiece of the Oak Openings and a model for land management practices in the region. The preserve soon became an outdoor laboratory for Dr. Michael’s students.  In addition to the Kitty Todd field trips, students were also required to put in volunteer service hours outside of class with several of the Green Ribbon Initiative partners including Metroparks of Toledo and Toledo Botanical Gardens. These two relationships strengthened over time and eventually turned into the Field Friday experience that we see today. Field Fridays offer specialized opportunity for students planning environmental careers and desiring training in specific land management skills.

As Mitchell Caris, a University of Toledo student, puts it: “Field Fridays are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and help participate in stewardship opportunities around the Oak Openings Region.  Because we are working within our local landscapes, we have a better understanding of where we live and the importance of protecting our local environment.”


Date Work activity Learning objective(s)
10/13 Seed Planting at Salamander Flats Restoration /Native Seed Collection Seed selection criteria for restoration sites. Intro to native plant collection techniques including state-listed species, annuals, perennials
10/20 Native Prairie Seed Collection Intro. To composites asters, blazingstars and goldenrods
10/27 Brushcutters safety training and field work Basics of working safely with brushcutters, Proper brush handling
11/3 Using brushcutters to restore savanna Mesiphication of eastern forests
11/17 Using brushcutters to restore savanna Invasive vs. pervasive species and why a few species are so darn successful
12/1 Chainsaw Training and use part 1 – ALL DAY EVENT (9AM – 4PM) Chainsaw safety – learning and practicing proper technique
12/8 Chainsaw training and use part 2 Practice and repetition in felling trees – Using wedges
12/15 Chainsaw training and use part 2 Practice and repetition in felling trees – Using wedges
1/5/18 Chainsaw training and use part 3 Intro to chainsaw inspection and repairs. How to rehab a saw.
1/12/18 Chainsaw training and use part 3 Intro to chainsaw inspection and repairs. How to rehab a saw.
1/19/18 Restore a savanna part 1 – Use chainsaws (for those trained) and brushcutters to help restore a savanna remnant Learn to identify a remnant savanna by looking for indicators. Review OORAM thresholds related to composition, structure and density
1/26 Restore a savanna part 2 – Use chainsaws and brushcutters to help restore a savanna remnant OBJECTIVE TBD
2/2 Conservation Planning – Help the partners of Green Ribbon Initiative to save the Oak Openings by brainstorming approaches to a real life problem Learn how Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) figure out how to enact social change
2/9 Wet prairie restoration part 1 – Chainsaw (for those trained) and brushcutter work Wet prairie hydrology and the role of woody plants
2/16 Wet prairie restoration part 2 – Chainsaw (for those trained) and brushcutter work OBJECTIVE TBD
2/23 Brush pile burning, roast –  WEATHER PERMITTING – For those at least ½ done with fire training, first chance to suit up and burn stuff Discuss basic fire concepts from first half of training.  Fire and Nutrient cycles – Modest Lunch provided by TNC
3/2 Remove invasive brush – using brushcutters and herbicide applicators Learn how invasive brush can alter the ecosystem while bringing a natural area back to life.
3/16 Flatwoods restoration – brush cut red maple Experience the Oak Openings Flatwoods communities at their peak, understand where they exist and why they are important.
3/23 Fire Field Day! – For those who have completed all online training Hands on activities to complete fire training.
FIRE SEASON Get permission from your professor(s) clear your schedule after 11AM to participate on as many fires as possible. 2 burn days required to get certificates to be certified by NWCG but the more you participate the more you will learn. It’s a ton of fun Become a part of the Oak Openings Fire Team. Learn some fire ecology and gain extremely marketable fireline experience.
4/13 Intro to Oak Openings Rapid Assessment Method (OORAM) – Learn to assess ecosystem condition using OORAM protocols including visual vegetation estimates and landscape context
4/20 Conservation End of Semester