Miller Ecological Park - "Fulfilling My Father's Dream"

Jan. 11, 2015

"Fulfilling My Father's Dream"

By Nancy Miller Myerholtz -  Lucas County OCVN  January 2015

The farm was the heart of our family. Due to my father’s career, we moved often, and it was our stable constant. The farm was part of my world long into my adulthood, even as I was raising my own children.  It was a place for solitary walks and family gatherings.  It was croquet to play, tractors to ride, trees to climb, lightning bugs to catch, and fried chicken, corn on the cob and apple pie to eat.   It was pecks on the cheek from my aproned, dimpled Grandma when we arrived and tears when we left.  It was lively family discussions, deep patriotism, and strong faith. It was my oasis, my escape. My mother and father finally landed in Northwest Ohio when I was a junior in high school. I attended Bowling Green State University, married and have lived in that area ever since. Even when I could not go to the farm, I always knew it was there and that was often enough.

After the death of my grandparents, selling the land was inevitable.  My aunt and my father each inherited half and there were no descendants who could take over the farm. In 1993, just five years after my grandmother died, my father sold 46 acres of his share to the City of Lebanon at half price with the stipulation that the land be used for a community park in memory of his parents.  He wanted it to continue to be loved and enjoyed, and he wanted a legacy for his parents.  Shortly afterwards, in 1994, my father died. My mother remarried a year later, and with three siblings on the west coast and a fourth in Texas, I became the self-proclaimed guardian of my father’s dream.  I took this task on, not only to continue my father’s work, but to ensure that this land would continue to be part of my life.  I did not have to let it go.

 This role as an advocate for Miller Park, which I began in the late 1990s, has enriched my life immeasurably.   For years, nothing happened.  Lack of funds and a creek on the property were given as reasons.  Then shelter houses and a wildflower meadow were added in 2002.  However, the shelter houses were

vandalized and the wildflower meadow was not tended. The original idea was for soccer fields, but they went to another property. 

The slow progress at the park was a blessing in disguise.  In 2008, a better use for the land was proposed: an ecological park.  I had little idea what an ecological park looked like, but it sounded perfect.  Passive recreation would showcase the farmhouse, now the Henry Farm, and an ecological park would mean a place dedicated to the beauty and wonder of nature, a place where all could roam and enjoy and be renewed.

The people who stepped forward to champion this progress became my Miller Park family and I found not only partners in the project, but dear friends.  Each brought his or her gifts, enthusiasm, love, knowledge and awareness of nature.  I was inspired to learn more myself and with encouragement from SW RiverLands OCVN members in our group, took the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist training.  I had always loved nature and sought the peace and healing I received from being outdoors, but now the door opened to learn more and become an advocate not only for Miller Ecological Park but for protecting and promoting our natural world in other ways.  Since I needed to take the course where I live, I could transfer some of my passion for Miller Ecological Park to my own area of NW Ohio and volunteer in the Toledo Area Metroparks. I am concentrating on vernal pools by doing monitoring in the Oak Openings Metropark because the subject of vernal pools is also one of great interest to those studying Miller Ecological Park’s newly acquired 51 acre preserve.  

While my father gave a gift to Lebanon, he gave me an even greater gift.  His entire life he taught his children, both in his words and by his deeds, that the true reward from this life comes from commitment and caring and making the world a better place.   When we do this,we reap benefits that far surpass our expectations. 

"Genuine happiness can only come from knowing that you are living a life which is being of service and helping others."

Edwin L. Miller

      Handwritten in a letter to his fiancé, Margaret Edna Bartter, 1942.

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