Summer of Purpose: Stephanie Poutz

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I’m helping to make a Greener Greater Cleveland.

On the back of West Creek Conservancy t-shirts is a statement that inspires me at my internship every day: “I’m helping to make a Greener Greater Cleveland.” To me, the best part about interning with a nonprofit organization is knowing that my daily responsibilities are working toward bettering the community. Included in my responsibilities is watershed stewardship at the sites owned by West Creek Conservancy.

I have never considered myself especially outdoorsy. Despite my passion for environmental sustainability, I am guilty of not being acquainted with nature very well. Through the different stewardship projects, I get the pleasure of spending time in nature each day while working with people who share the passion for improving our environment. These experiences have helped me learn more about watersheds than I ever would have in one of my classes, as well as help me discover a new love for the outdoors.

One of the many sites that require my stewardship is the West Creek Confluence. This is the meeting point of the West Creek and the Cuyahoga River. By looking at it now, I would never guess that it used to be blocked by 10 acres of pavement including a five-acre abandoned warehouse and a drive-through bank. With that entire area being impermeable surface, it is no surprise that the area was incredibly prone to flooding. In spring of 2013, after about six years of preparation, demolition began. Today, the Confluence is a floodplain home to wetlands, flourishing plants, and wildlife.

Not sure if it's too late or not, but I went out during the rain today to take pictures of the Confluence while it's flooded to show how much water it can hold.

L to R are two examples of the Confluence while it’s flooded to show how much water it can hold.

One upcoming project that I’m assisting with is a volunteer event on Saturday, July 18 at the West Creek Confluence. The event, “Do Something Day” will include planting Monarch Way Stations. These stations will help Monarch butterflies eat and rest for migration while adding more beauty to the Confluence. If this event piques your interest, you can find all of the details at http://westcreek.org/upcoming-events/

Stephanie Poutz

Stephanie Poutz, a junior at Baldwin Wallace University, majoring in Sustainability Business Administration, is placed at West Creek Conservancy. Stephanie’s responsibilities are divided between various tasks, projects and programs including assistance with identifying potential restoration areas for theWest Creek Watershed Action Plan and Mill Creek Watershed Partnership. Stephanie also assists with volunteer management, open-house activities and other professional development/training days at the Conservancy’s Kinsman Farm site.