By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Beth Parker’s appreciation for the environment comes naturally. She grew up near Pittsburgh, spending time outside, with a dad who worked as a canoeing instructor for the Red Cross.
Her love of nature has led her to the position of environmental program coordinator for Wood County.
“I guess it boils down to respect,” Parker said. “The earth is our home. We should respect it. We’re not going to get another one, so we need to treat it well.”
Parker earned an environmental science degree from Bowling Green State University, with a specialization in education and interpretation.
She went on to work at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Ohio, the Long Lake Conservation Center in Minnesota, and most recently at the Wood County Park District as a naturalist.
“When you have a love for nature, you want to protect it and make sure it’s well cared for,” Parker said.
Parker took over the environmental program coordinator position just as the county opened permanent recycling sites at several satellite locations throughout Wood County.
“That started the day before I started,” she said. “I’ve been out checking those to make sure things are going well.”
The recycling sites are being used by many county residents, she said. But Parker has identified a need for education on some topics at the satellite locations.
Some people are continuing to put their recyclables in plastic grocery bags, which cause problems. “They can tangle up the machines,” Parker said.
And cardboard boxes should be flattened before being put in the drop-offs, she added.
“But people are definitely using them, which is great,” Parker said.
In addition to the county’s recycling efforts, Parker will also be giving tours of the wind farm and county landfill. She will be working on avenues for education, programs, and partnerships with community organizations.
“I’m looking forward to being able to continue the educational opportunities they’ve been providing in the past,” she said. “I look forward to building relationships with other community groups, businesses, and governmental entities.”
Parker is also interested in working on composting in the county.
“It’s all about working toward a sustainable future,” she said.