The Green Team travelled to Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge over spring break for two days of team building, work, and play. This annual trip is truly a highlight of our year and is only possible thanks to Mill Creek Alliance's support from NFWF and an anonymous donor and our strong partnership with the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service as part of Groundwork USA.
After arriving at the refuge on Tuesday, the team watched an introductory video that shared the importance of this almost 8000-acre preserved and restored wetland area to migrating and nesting birds. After settling into their bunkhouse they ventured out with Refuge Specialist, Shane Baxter, to check out the refuge's complex managed dam system that allows for control of water levels for the health of plants and wildlife. Along the way they spotted a bald eagle's nest plus lots of coots and buffleheads passing through on their way north. After a hike on the Richart Lake Trail they settled into their bunk to make dinner and play some team building games.
The next day the Green Team got to work! They split up to work with Refuge Manager Alejandro Galvan on planting native forbs in a recently-burned field (the same field in which the Green Team planted native grasses last year!) and build a bridge over a small stream on a trail with Shane. They learned to use impact drivers, levels, and hammers, as well as communicate effectively with each other to frame out the bridge, lay the decking, and construct the sides. Just as the team was wrapping up for the day a jogger came running across the brand-new bridge! They enjoyed a delicious "Indiana pitch-in" (potluck) lunch with the refuge's Friends group, who has generously supported MCA visits in previous years.
After work, the team went kayaking (in awesome inflatable kayaks, thanks to REI) and spotted a beaver dam, cormorants, and tree swallows. After dinner and s'mores by the fire, the night concluded with a star gazing hike, where Green Teamers searched for their own signs of the zodiac using SkyView - Explore the Universe. They experienced the contrast of human development and the natural setting of the refuge, where the sounds of spring peepers mix with the noise of interstate 65 and the clear, starry sky fades away into the lights of Seymour, Indiana.
Before heading home on Thursday, everyone pitched in to clean up the bunk, then put the finishing touches on the trail bridge. A stop at the visitor's center concluded two incredible days of hard work, camaraderie, and plenty of fun and laughs. Mill Creek Alliance looks forward to growing our partnership with the Refuge and with U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service in the coming years! Support for the Green Team is also provided by Greater Cincinnati Foundation and City Of Cincinnati Government Youth 2 Work. A big shout out to Adventure Crew for connecting us with so many of our Green Team youth over the years, as well as Villedge!
Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public and is a day trip from Cincinnati if you would like to plan a visit!