Bowling Green Kiwanis Club

Bowling Green takes ‘green’ part of name seriously

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Amanda Gamby’s new job may fall short of being glamorous. It’s had her tagging garbage bins, going through recycling, and riding bike for the first time in eight years. But as Bowling Green’s first ever sustainability coordinator, Gamby doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She is a true believer in the city’s environmental sustainability – whether that involves energy production, recycling, bicycling or clean water. Gamby, who spoke Thursday to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club, said the city has already made some serious strides toward sustainability. “We’re really already doing some pretty cool things,” Gamby said. “We’re just not telling about it very well.” So that is part of her job. Gamby, who previously served as the Wood County environmental educator, has expertise in public outreach and education for very young children to senior citizens, and everyone in between. And she wants them all to know that 42 percent of Bowling Green’s electricity comes from renewable sources. “That’s a pretty big chunk of the pie,” Gamby said. The city was the first in Ohio to use a wind farm to generate municipal electricity, starting in 2003. “The joke is that it’s a wind garden because it’s only four,” she said. But even though it’s just four turbines, some doubted the city’s wisdom and investment in the $8.8 million project. “Many people thought Daryl Stockburger was crazy,” Gamby said, of the city’s utilities director at the time who pushed for the wind turbines. But the turbines have been generating power ever since. The turbines are as tall as a 30-story building and generate up to 7.2 megawatts of power — enough to supply electricity for approximately 2,500 residential customers. Debt on the wind turbine project was paid in full in 2015, which was several years earlier than planned, Gamby said. And now, the city is home to the largest solar field in Ohio. The 165-acre solar field consists of more than 85,000 panels and is capable of producing 20-megawatts of alternating current electricity.  In an average year, it is expected to produce an equivalent amount of energy needed to power approximately 3,000 homes.  It will also avoid approximately 25,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year since the energy is generated from a non-fossil fuel resource. The city is also talking about building a community solar field on East Gypsy Lane Road, where city residents and businesses can buy into solar power. “We’re really leaders. Our small community is setting the stage for others,” Gamby said. Bowling Green city officials have been adamant that the wind farm and solar field be open to tours so that others can learn from the alternative energy sites. Tours are allowed under and inside the turbines, and through the rows of solar panels. “That’s pretty unheard of in the industry,” Gamby said. The city is working to improve some of its other environmentally friendly programs, like encouraging more “rain gardens” and educating people to not put pollutants into storm sewers since stormwater is not treated by the water pollution control plant. Bowling Green continues to try to educate residents about its curbside recycling program, in order to keep contamination out of the recycling bins. But the city – with its frequently changing population at BGSU –…


Unleashing skills of dogs to serve human beings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The black lab Porsche kept her eyes on her trainer, despite the dog treats scattered on the floor in front of her – including one sitting on her paw. Her salivary glands sent drops of slobber onto the floor, but she continued to obey the order to “leave.” Porsche is in training to become a service dog for Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, located under the Ability Center umbrella in Toledo. She and Jordan Kwapich, client service coordinator with Assistance Dogs, presented a program recently for the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. Kwapich, a Bowling Green State University graduate, works to match up service dogs with the people they will serve. The program currently has about 150 matches, and places about 20 dogs a year. “I have been a dog lover all my life,” so the job is a perfect match for her, Kwapich said. Her job is to screen clients before they get service dogs. “I get a feel of what their personalities are,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing – matching the personalities together.” “Our goal is to help people be as independent as they want to be,” Kwapich said. Most of the dogs trained are Labrador or golden retrievers. “We love their temperament,” she said. “They are very social and friendly.” Not all canines are made to be service dogs. “We look for a dog that’s very confident, work driven, not afraid of things.” They must also have a lot of energy. “They need to keep up with their person’s needs.” The agency trains dogs to fill the roles of service dogs, special needs dogs, and school therapy dogs. Most start their training as puppies, and are placed with a person when they reach 2 years old. “They have most of the puppy stuff out of their systems by then,” Kwapich said. The dogs are trained to perform such tasks as picking up dropped items, pushing or pulling open doors, delivering a telephone to their owner, helping with transfers from chairs or to bed, retrieving items from cabinets, and opening a refrigerator to get items like bottled water. The dogs learn to be problem solvers. “It’s pretty amazing,” Kwapich said. “Dogs are very intuitive.” The dogs trained for special needs clients learn skills to assist people with autism or Down’s syndrome. During training, the dogs live with volunteer foster families, where they are exposed to different settings and people. They learn to be comfortable riding in cars, going to the zoo or baseball games, and learn to not be afraid of people dressed differently, such as wearing scrubs in a hospital. The program uses positive reinforcement to train the dogs – with rewards being bits of kibble, verbal praises, or manual “clickers” that tell a dog he has done well. The dogs always wear their working vests when in public. “They know they are working when they have their equipment on,” Kwapich said. Not all dogs make it through the training. One dog almost completed his two years, when it became clear that he was afraid of shiny tile floors, she said. Those “fabulous flunkies” are then available for adoption. “They go on to be fabulous pets,” she said. Kwapich noted that the “assistance” pet umbrella has become very broad…


America’s cookies rely on winter wheat grown in Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wheat grown in Ohio is a mainstay for Oreos and Chips Ahoy. Sure, other states grow the wheat that makes artisan breads and premium pastas. But Ohio’s soft red winter wheat is the type needed for pastries, cookies, saltines, cake, brownies and pretzels. Brad Moffitt, director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, talked about America’s crops in general and Ohio’s wheat in detail at a recent Bowling Green Kiwanis Club meeting. “We are the top soft red winter wheat state,” Moffitt said. Six main types of wheat are grown in the U.S., with the differing soil types and growing seasons determining which type grows best in which areas. Though corn and soybeans are currently more profitable, farmers realize it’s good to keep wheat in the soil rotation, Moffitt said. More than 590,000 acres in Ohio were planted in soft red winter wheat in 2016. Moffitt described himself as “a farm boy from Urbana,” growing up with crops, cattle and hogs. He then went into a career in education, before “getting back in agriculture, where I belong.” His current job consists of working on research, market development, promotion and education. Moffitt talked with the Kiwanians about agriculture remaining the largest industry in Ohio, and about America’s role in feeding the world. “Our farmers are more than capable of feeding the U.S. and the world,” he said. “We’ve done it before. We’ll do it again.” Estimates suggest that 9.7 billion people will need to be fed by the year 2050. “American farmers have met the challenge before,” he said, describing farmers as industrious and ingenious. The problem isn’t growing the food, Moffitt said. The real problem is transportation infrastructure, storage, refrigeration and processing. “We can produce the food – getting it there is another problem,” he said. The world’s demands for food have not only grown, but they also have changed. More “middle class” people means more demand for meat protein. “They want some of the things we take for granted in this country,” Moffitt said. “When you move into the middle class, you want to eat a little bit better.” More meat demand means more corn, wheat and soybean needed for livestock consumption, he added. Nearly half of the wheat grown in the U.S. ends up in 125 other countries, Moffitt said. Common destinations include Mexico, South America, northern Asia, China and Europe. “Fifty percent of the U.S. wheat crop ends up on a boat and shipped to other countries,” he said. That keeps the ports in Toledo busy, since that is the only place in Ohio where grain can be loaded into vessels, according to Moffitt. Farmers are not only industrious, they are also business savvy. “We are very passionate about NAFTA not being messed up,” he said. Ohio wheat farmers know that French bread bakers could get their wheat from the Ukraine, but they prefer the quality of the soft red winter wheat grown in the U.S. That wheat is vital to French baguettes. “I didn’t know what a baguette was until someone stuck it in my bag at Panera,” Moffitt said. The demand for Ohio wheat in France is high. “They still buy fresh bread every day,” he said. “The quality of the grain is very important.” The…


Exchange Club kicks in $10,000 for Wooster Green

From THE EXCHANGE CLUB OF BOWLING GREEN The Exchange Club of Bowling Green has donated $10,000 towards the development of the Wooster Green Project.  “Wooster Green is an important community effort that will greatly enhance the quality of life in Bowling Green and the Exchange Club is pleased to support this project,” said Club President Jenny Swope.  “We think it will be an exciting addition to our city and we are proud to join other community groups and individuals in helping Wooster Green become a reality,” she added. Since its 1946 founding in Bowling Green, the Exchange Club has a long history of supporting community organizations and programs, including scholarships for Bowling Green High School students, charitable work, donations to community organizations, and participating in community events. Prevention of child abuse is a prime club focus. Funds to support its philanthropy efforts comes primarily from the Exchange Club’s annual pancake breakfast, which this year will be March 17 in the Bowling Green High School cafeteria, and a Reverse Raffle. The Exchange Club meets at noon on Tuesdays at Stone Ridge Golf Club. Visitors are welcome to learn more about the Club and its upcoming events.


BG teacher helps sculpt students into young artists

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nikki Myers is not above using puns to get students excited about art. One pottery team was deemed the “Harry Potters.” Some projects create so much mess, “it looked like a unicorn threw up in my room.” Myers, art teacher at Bowling Green High School, was recognized Thursday by the Kiwanis Club as this year’s high school inspirational educator. As she was being honored, Myers gave the Kiwanis members a taste of what it is like being in her classroom. The assignment had grownups teaming up to draw bizarre creatures. The result in one case was a nerdy geek head, sitting atop a winding intestines torso, complete with duck feet as the final touch. “It’s a great way to open up,” Myers explained of the art exercise. “It’s a great way to get them to work together.” Myers likes to combine problem solving with art. Like when she has students take off their shoes and work together to create the tallest shoe sculpture. First comes the frustration as the shoes keep falling over. Then comes the light bulb. “They start to figure it out. They get geeked out,” she said. “The kids are pushed beyond what they think they can do to make great art,” Myers said. Students see what they can create from a cup or a plain white T-shirt. “Then we have a fashion show.” The students visit a local farm to experiment with photography. “They get all geeked out hanging with the cows,” she said. They go to the Toledo Museum of Art, and play with the interactive art. “They sounded like they were in second grade,” she said of the high school juniors and seniors. Students learn how to make moveable metal art – like a metal armadillo that squirms and a decorative pair of scissors that make a cutting motion. Myers is also big on making mistakes. “You’ve got to fail to succeed,” she said. She is also big on community, and getting her students involved by creating posters for the school musical, designing T-shirts for the “Zombie Mud Run,” drawing illustrations for a book, doing window painting at local businesses, creating designs for Grounds for Thought coffee bags, and cookie boxes for the Cookie Jar. “I want them to see partnerships working out in the community,” Myers said. “If you have a strong community, you have strong schools.” Myers loves challenging her students. They help little kids create art at the Black Swamp Arts Festival and compete in the sidewalk chalk contest. “I can push these artists outside their comfort zone,” she said. Myers also likes challenging herself. She helped a blind student learn to paint by putting different scents in different colors of paint, so he could identify the hues. “It smelled like a bakery in there,” she said of her classroom. Myers credits her parents – both former educators – with instilling in her a strong work ethic, an ability to persevere through problems, a sense of responsibility and a lifelong love of learning. She majored in both art and German at Bowling Green State University, then taught a couple years in Grove City before returning to Bowling Green. Myers went on to teach with many art mentors, including Becky Laabs, whose “love of…


BGMS teacher inspires students in class and on court

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This was no hum-drum history lesson. This was the story of the Boston Massacre told through hip-hop. Under attack by a mob of angry colonists, the British soldiers shot and killed several men – setting a spark for the American Revolution. This was a history lesson from 1770 set to a 2018 beat by a Bowling Green student inspired by her eighth grade social studies teacher, Mandy Pasley. Pasley, who has taught at Bowling Green Middle School for 19 years, was honored Thursday as an inspirational educator of the year by the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. She played the Boston Massacre recording to the club to show the creativity of her students. “Mandy’s one of our best educators,” Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said after Pasley was given her award. “Her passion for students is what drives her to be the best.” But Pasley, who also coaches the varsity volleyball team, passed on all the credit to her parents, her husband, her “kids” at home and in the classroom – but mostly her favorite teachers who left lasting impressions on her life. “I was blessed to have some of the best teachers I’ve ever been around,” she said. Pasley, who grew up in Bowling Green, fondly remembered her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Daly. “She was way ahead of her time,” using problem-based strategies that are popular in today’s classrooms. Some lessons stuck with Pasley, like the day the class made gingerbread men, then arrived at school the following day to find the cookies had disappeared. The students had to solve the clues to find the missing gingerbread men. Then in third grade at Crim Elementary, Mrs. Sullivan was her sweet, kind teacher with very high expectations. “We never wanted to disappoint her,” Pasley recalled. But one day Pasley and her friend did disappoint their teacher, when they wrote a secret note to a boy in their class. Pasley felt horrible, and Mrs. Sullivan knew her young student well enough to know she didn’t need to say a word. “I was already mortified by what I had done,” Pasley said. The next year, Mrs. Simmons in fourth grade shared her love for literacy and reading. She would read aloud to the class every day. “Her storytelling was so amazing and powerful,” Pasley said. In seventh grade English, Mrs. Abel let her students explore, learn and “figure it out on our own.” She often peppered her lessons with current events, making them even more memorable. And in high school, it was Karol Kampe, who was her teacher and coach, and then went on to be her mentor and friend. Kampe taught some powerful lessons in the gym. “She empowered us as female athletes,” Pasley said. Girls were taught to believe in themselves. “We were just as important as the football team,” Pasley said. Pasley also credited her parents for pushing her to be her best, in the classroom and on the court. “My parents never missed a game,” she said of her volleyball and basketball games. Now her husband, Brock, and their two children inspire her. “It really made me look at my students and parents in a whole new light,” once she had children of her own. Her fellow teachers also make her try…


Classroom is a stage for Conneaut’s Bob Marzola

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The fifth grade classroom at Conneaut Elementary School is Bob Marzola’s stage. “There’s storytelling. There are props. There are costumes. At least when I teach there are,” Marzola said. Marzola, who teaches social studies and English language arts, knew his teaching style was reaching his young audience when a parent came in for a teacher conference. The student had told her mother that Marzola memorizes a new script every day. “‘Mom, I don’t know how Mr. Marzola does it,’” the parent explained her child said after school one day. “‘He puts on a different show every day.’” Ta-da. Lesson learned in a most pleasant way. Marzola was recognized Thursday by the Kiwanis Club as Bowling Green’s elementary inspirational educator. The organization honors outstanding teachers each year. Later this month, inspirational educators from the middle school and high school will be recognized. Marzola is definitely not a traditional type of teacher. His skills are known throughout the district, leading teachers from his own and the other elementaries to recommend him for the award. “He’s creative. We want kids to think outside the box,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “He brings the classroom to life. The kids love him.” And Marzola loves them back. “I’m here receiving this award because of them,” he said. “I have become a better teacher because of my relationship with them. They inspire me. Just as I’m teaching my students, they are teaching me.” Marzola gets to reconnect with a lot of his students when they get into high school, since he choreographs all the district’s musical productions. “Building on the relationships we had when we were in the elementary is amazing,” he said. “They truly are attached to your heart forever.” Marzola credited his parents with being patient with his love of dance as he was growing up. Their support was steadfast even when his first performance consisted of him standing on stage crying. He stuck with it, and they stuck by him. And that has helped make him the teacher who stages his lessons for eager young minds. “Teaching and theater – it’s the same,” Marzola said. “Students don’t want to be talked to. They want to be taken on a journey.” And like any good performer, Marzola knows when his audience is not responding. “There’s a lot of thinking on your feet. A good teacher flips the script” and finds a different way to reach the students. “I want to inspire them to always achieve their best.” Marzola also credited his fellow teachers for inspiration. Educators are always sharing strategies that work in the classroom. “If you keep it to yourself, it does not help your students,” he said. “They’ve helped me to be a better teacher.” Marzola also thanked the school administration for being tolerate of his non-traditional techniques. “I appreciate that they let me teach in a way that plays to my strengths,” he said. “I love what I do. I truly believe this is what I was meant to do.” Turns out it’s not just the kids who love Marzola. Several Kiwanis members whose children were in Mazola’s class over the years also had fond memories. As he introduced Marzola, Lee Meserve talked about the thrill of being a good teacher. “Turning…