Metroparks Toledo invests in diversity, equity, and inclusion at the parks

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 4:26 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - What does it take to run the Metroparks? There are groundskeepers, park rangers, and so many more people who work behind the scenes. Metroparks Toledo is teaching students about all those jobs and paying them in the process.

Felica Clark leads the DEI initiative at Metroparks Toledo. That’s diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“The parks belong to all of us,” Clark said. “When folks support us, we don’t ask, ‘what do you believe?’ if you’re a woman or a man, or what color you are. They vote for us, they support us.”

Part of that mission is giving students the chance to see and experience what happens in the parks.

“It is making certain that kids from all different backgrounds, not only do they know about the parks, and how important parks are to communities, but bringing them in and seeing how the parks are governed,” Clark said.

The program goes beyond a behind-the-scenes look.

“This is a paid program,” she said. “We are paying the youth to come in and learn about our parks and then giving them a work project that aligns and reinforces what they learned.”

Anthony Pappas is a junior at St. Francis de Sales and is involved in the program.

“It’s something bigger than I initially thought it would be,” Pappas said. “The other day we went to help with the seed nursery.”

Another student, Keyan Holston, is a senior at St. Francis. He says he’s learned “a lot about nature, a lot about how they take care of the parks, and everything that everybody does, and how everybody’s role is important.”

Clark went on to say, “if you love the outdoors, or if you don’t love the outdoors, Metroparks is a business. We have all of these different roles, regardless of if you want to go into the outdoors or not, we want to inspire youth to go into the natural sciences or professions that support our mission.”

If you have a student who’s interested in getting involved in this program, Clark says you can contact her at She says the program involves four students right now, and she’s eager to add more and expand the program in the future.

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