Cleveland Metroparks wants to help your backyard live its best life

When it comes to enhancing Cleveland’s biodiversity, little things mean a lot.


“A lot of folks don’t realize the small things they do in their backyards can make a big difference for wildlife,” says Gayle Albers, manager of the Cleveland Metroparks Watershed Stewardship Center.


That’s exactly why Cleveland Metroparks is hosting its sixth annual Backyard Nature Bash this Saturday, Aug. 17. Attendees can purchase native plants, listen to live blues-rock from the Swamp Rattlers, and learn how to install a rain garden and lure pollinators in their backyards. “The concept behind the event is to learn how to attract native wildlife to your backyard and help maintain Ohio’s biodiversity,” Albers says.


Participants will also get a rare chance to tour the living roof of the LEED Gold-certified Watershed Stewardship Center and check out the new “Pollinators & Nature Art Exhibit” featuring the work of the Crooked River Gang. According to Alberts, the display will be up through Sept. 15.


“They’ve been exhibiting their work at the M.D. Garage in Peninsula for 19 years and needed a new venue, so they approached us,” Albers says. “We’ll be displaying nearly 100 pieces of artwork that will also be on sale.”


The Backyard Nature Bash will also offer an array of indoor activities, including plant anatomy lessons and a “UV maze” that invites attendees to “see what it’s like to be a pollinator with compound eyes and the types of colors they see in UV blacklight,” Albers says.


Rounding out the family-friendly event will be free haywagon rides; mini-birding hikes; and food trucks including Honey Hut, Kernels by Chrissie, and Hounds Hotdogs. Between 500 and 1,000 people are expected to attend the free event, which is sponsored by ACME Fresh Food Market and presented in partnership with Northeast Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) and West Creek Conservancy.


The Backyard Nature Bash has become a flagship event for the Watershed Stewardship Center, along with the annual World Water Day event, Albers says. “The Backyard Nature Bash fits the mission of the Watershed Stewardship Center, which is to enhance and protect urban watersheds, as well as provide education for volunteer stewardship.”

The Backyard Nature Bash takes place Saturday, Aug. 17, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Watershed Stewardship Center in the West Creek Reservation (
2277 West Ridgewood Drive, Parma, OH 44134). More 411 here.

Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As a Cleveland native and enthusiast, Jen Jones Donatelli is thrilled to take on the managing editor role at FreshWater. As a full-time freelance writer and editor for more than a decade, Jen has contributed to publications including Redbook, Budget Travel, GOOD, Playboy, Thrillist, Cleveland Magazine, Los Angeles Confidential, San Francisco, Ohio Today, and many more. She is also a contributing editor for Destination Cleveland and a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
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