This section of the Greenway Gazette covers news and insights pertaining to our program as well as the local outdoor industry and community.

Natural Facts: Outdoor Health Impact

A connection with the outdoors is vitally important to your mental and physical health.  Science is proving that time spent outdoors can have a calming, rejuvenating effect on your mental and physical health.

Being in Nature Boosts Energy: Research in the Journal of Environmental Psychology shows that being surrounded by nature increases physical and mental energy. U.S. and Canadian psychologists conducted a series of studies asking participants to visualize certain images (including ones of nature), walk in outdoor and indoor environments, and look at various photos (including ones of natural elements)—and report how they were feeling in all situations. In each situation, men and women reported an increase in vitality when around natural elements (both visually and when physically surrounded by nature). This may be why, say the researchers, people are intrinsically drawn to natural settings.

Spending Time Outdoors Helps Us Age Gracefully: People age 70 or older who spend time outdoors every day report fewer sleep problems and aches and pains than those who stay indoors, according to a study published in the Journal of Aging Health.

Walking Outside Increases Creativity: Many people notice improved creativity after being active outdoors. And that feeling is backed by science: In one study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that walking out of doors helps boost inspiration and inventiveness.

Natural Surroundings Improve Concentration: Australian researchers found that taking 40-second “micro breaks” during the day to look at a green, natural environment can improve concentration—and performance—while working. The research, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, emphasizes the importance of taking nature breaks (going for a walk or even looking at a photo of a natural scene), particularly when stressed or mentally fatigued.

Nature Hikes Reduce Anxiety and Depression: A Stanford University study found that walking for 90 minutes in nature showed—through brain scans that track blood flow through the brain—decreased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with anxiety and depression. This study, the researchers say, shows that nature actually has the power to change the brain.

Nature Helps Recovery and Reduces Pain: Researcher Roger S. Ulrich, director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University, conducted a study on patients who underwent surgery. He found that patients who had a view of trees healed faster, had less pain and had shorter hospital stays than those who had a view of a wall.

Seeing Nature Leads to Greater Work Satisfaction: Office workers with a view of nature outside their windows liked their jobs more, had less stress and greater work satisfaction and were healthier, according to research published in the journal Public Health Reports.

Contact with Nature Leads to Less Crime: A study published in the journal BioScience found that the greater the amount of greenspace in a community, the less crime that area had—even in areas with lower levels of education, income and other socioeconomic factors.

Walking in Forests Boosts Immunity: Japanese researchers wanted to explore the potential immune benefits of shinrin-yoku—so they studied the activity of people’s natural killer (NK) cells, a component of the immune system that fights cancer. They measured the cells before and after forest bathing. These natural killer cells were significantly increased after spending just a day out in nature. And the boost in immune cells remained for seven days after the trip ended.

Living Near Trees Makes Us Healthier: Researchers at the University of Chicago found that, controlled for socioeconomic factors, just living in areas with lots of trees can make a person healthier, both psychologically and physically. Lead researcher, Marc G. Berman, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, believes these health benefits could be the result of better air quality (trees help filter out pollution) and the fact that having trees nearby may encourage people to spend time outdoors.

Even the Color Green Has An Impact: Another study from the University of Essex found that viewing the color green—found abundantly in nature—results in fewer mood disturbances and less exertion when exercising (e.g. it makes exercise seem easier).

Read the full article from Mother Earth Living

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Natural Facts, OAC News, Uncategorized|

Conservation Corner: Diversity in Nature

A 2009 survey by the National Parks Service found that of all ethnic groups, African Americans were least likely to have visited one of our national parks in the preceding ten years. That’s a particularly soul-crushing stat when you consider that our nation’s very first park rangers were the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black military battalions who’d already risked their lives for a country that at times barely qualified them as humans. Yet these men were the ones who literally carved out the roads and trails in then-fledgling Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, then set about protecting both visitors and the land and wildlife as well. It was a mission made especially challenging in the face of that era’s entrenched racism.

Numbers aside, for us to assume that there is a fundamental disconnect between the outdoors and African Americans is wrongheaded and dangerous idea. And Rue Mapp is working to change all that.

Rue Mapp is an activist, writer, community organizer, member of the Outdoor Industry Association’s board of directors, a California State Park Commissioner. She’s the winner, alongside President Bill Clinton, of the 2014 National Wildlife Federation Communication award, been anointed one of the most influential African Americans in the country by The Root 100, and, in 2015, was one of Family Circlemagazine’s 20 Most Influential Moms. She’s also worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on her “Let’s Move” program, and is a program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Development. The list goes on. But, primarily, she’s the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, where she oversees a specially trained volunteer leadership team who’s focus is inspiring and celebrating African American’s connections to, and leadership in, nature.

Read the full article in the Daily Beast


2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Conservation Corner, Director's Blog, OAC News|

Happy Trails: Campgrounds Opening

March and April mark the beginning of a new camping season so break out your backpacks and get outside.  Great Parks of Hamilton County will open several parks in the coming weeks.

Reservations can be made online at for Winton Woods and Miami Whitewater Forest Campgrounds at

A valid Great Parks of Hamilton County motor vehicle permit ($10 annual; $3 daily) is required to enter the parks. Armleder and Fernbank Parks are cooperative ventures with the Cincinnati Park Board; a Motor Vehicle Permit is not required.

For additional information, please visit or call 521-7275.


Winton Woods Campground opens March 4

Winton Woods Campground is set in a pine grove alongside Winton Woods Lake and is within easy walking distance of Winton Woods Harbor, and the boathouse, snack bar and wet playground. The campground is located approximately 20 minutes north of downtown Cincinnati and 30 minutes south of Kings Island amusement park.

More info about Winton Woods Campground


Miami Whitewater Forest Campground opens March 4

For a quiet, scenic spot to relax and set up camp, visit Miami Whitewater Forest Campground. Located 30 minutes northwest of downtown Cincinnati, this campground is set back in a wooded area on more than 4,000 acres in Miami Whitewater Forest within walking distance to a harbor and 85-acre lake. Each of the 46 sites is equipped with 30 amp electric hookups, picnic table and fire ring. A newly renovated shower building, playground and dump station are also located within the campground.

More info about Miami Whitewater Campground


Steamboat Bend Campground opens April 1

Steamboat Bend is conveniently located in 1,030 acre Woodland Mound on the east side of Cincinnati near the intersection of Route 52 and Nine Mile Road. Only 20 minutes from downtown Cincinnati and five minutes from the Riverbend Music Center, this beautiful campground sits on the shores of the scenic Ohio River and features 55 tree-lined campsites, many with a panoramic view. Each site features water and 30 amp electric hookups, picnic table and fire ring. There is also a sanitary dump station located within the campground for registered campers use.

More info about Steamboat Bend Campground in Woodland Mound Park

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Happy Trails, OAC News|

Top Story: OACGC Sponsors 2016 Ohio Paddlefest

OACGC is excited to announce that we are the new sponsor and beneficiary of The Ohio River Paddlefest.  For 15 years, Paddlefest has been celebrating, protecting, and promoting the beauty of the Ohio River through the largest paddling trip in the nation.  Each summer, over 1,000 paddlers take to the Ohio, free of motorized traffic, to enjoy 8 miles of scenery along the Ohio and Kentucky shorelines.

This year, in celebration of Paddlefest’s 15th anniversary, the paddling course has been expanded to nearly 9 miles, starting at Schmidt Recreation Complex and ending at Gilday Riverside Park.  This new route will include a halfway stop in Covington, with an opportunity to explore the Licking River and the Mill Creek.

If you‘ve paddled this event before, come back this year – it’s all new! If you’ve never paddled the Ohio, come experience this tremendous asset to our community close-up!  For more information, visit the Paddlefest website (, and join OACGC on Saturday, August 6th to paddle for a cause!

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Local Headlines, OAC News, Uncategorized|

Conservation Corner: Cincinnati Zoo’s Living Classroom

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Living Classroom Education Access Fund provides an amazing way for students at under-resourced schools to get some valuable hands-on learning. Through this unique program, local children are able to visit the Zoo and Botanical Garden for free and even spend the night while they see how nature interacts during the day and at night.

According to WCPO, “Nearly 18,000 students from under-resourced schools took part in free educational field trips to the zoo last year. In addition, 855 students spent the night for free as part of the Nocturnal Adventure Program. The charitable program is designed to bridge the gap, making hands-on learning available to all students.”

Read More from WCPO Insider Here

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Conservation Corner, Director's Blog, OAC News|

Natural Facts: Many Benefits of Hiking

It doesn’t matter whether you take a walk in the park or lace up your hiking boots for a backpacking expedition up a mountain. Hiking on the trail – immersed in nature – offers understated health benefits for adults and children alike. Health benefits of hiking include improving your physical, mental, and for some – even spiritual – wellbeing.

No room in your schedule? Even if you can’t hit the trail as often as you’d like, make it a point tospend just 10-15 minutes a day outdoors. Most people start to notice a positive shift in their life after committing to some outside time every day.

Scientists are not completely sure of the range of positive effects vitamin D has on the body, but studies suggest the vitamin wards against conditions like osteoporosis, cancer, depression, and heart attacks. What we do know for sure is that vitamin D aids the body’s absorption of calcium and boosts the immune system.

Exposing yourself to sunlight early in the morning tells your body when to start producing melatonin. That way, when nighttime rolls around, your body will know when it’s time to hit the hay. Even if you work in a windowless environment for 8 hours a day, getting outside into the daylight for just 10-15 minutes could help you fall asleep easier at night.

When children spend time in nature with family and/or friends instead of sitting idly in front of a screen, the way they interact with people changes for the best. Outdoor activities are thought to make children (and adults) act nicer and even create more meaningful social interactions.

Not only do children connect with the environment, they better connect with one another when they are distraction-free. Sometimes it’s best to unplug, leave the smartphones and gadgets at home, and truly experience what lies beyond your front door.

Most people exercise indoors because it’s much easier to maintain a routine in a controlled environment. Torrential downpour, blistering heat, and frostbitten winds are never an issue when hitting the gym. Also, indoor fitness facilities have weights and loads of equipment for getting in shape.

A 2008 study by the Scottish Health Study concluded that outdoor physical activity has a significantly greater positive effect on mental health than exercising in a gym. In addition, running outdoors reportedly has a better effect on the body than running on a treadmill or stationary bicycle.

Read More

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Natural Facts|

Happy Trails: Gardening for Recess

Twice a week at Malcom Elementary School in Laguna Niguel, children like Heather Smith can’t wait to skip their lunchtime recess.

Instead of a game of four square or basketball on the playground, they stream into their school’s garden, push up their sleeves and get to work.

On this Thursday in late fall, that work is thinning and transplanting lettuce seedlings and planting carrot and radish seeds in the ground. Some kids scurry around on a “botany scavenger hunt,” using magnifying glasses to examine leaves’ shapes and characteristics.

Malcom Elementary was one of the first schools to participate in the Grow Your Own! organic garden program through the nonprofit Ecology Center ( in San Juan Capistrano.

“I don’t know of a school garden movement that’s bigger historically than what’s happening today. People are recognizing that simply learning in the classroom isn’t enough. That connection to the outdoors is essential to developing a whole education,” said Meg Hiesinger, who directs the Grow Your Own! program.

In 2010, the American Heart Association established a teaching gardens program with the goal of improving eating habits and cardiovascular health. The program operates more than 300 gardens nationwide, including 40 across Southern California. In Orange County, it has gardens at 14 schools in Garden Grove, Anaheim and Santa Ana.

The Heart Association has developed 35 garden-based lesson plans serving kindergarten through fifth grade, which it shares with educators, and maintains an online Garden Community (gardencommunity.heart .org) to answer questions and connect parents and teachers with resources.

read the whole article here

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Happy Trails, OAC News|

December Event Recap: Green Derby

OACGC hosted our final happy hour fundraiser of 2015 at Green Derby in Newport on December 3rd.  Guests dined on Kentucky culinary classics while enjoying good drinks and conversation.  Jason Spaulding was the lucky winner of our raffle that included Oboz boots, an Opsrey day pack, cozy socks and winter hat donated by Roads, Rivers, and Trails (RRT) in Milford.

RRT also set up a lovely display of holiday gift ideas for the outdoorsy person in everyone’s life.  Some smart happy hour attendees even marked off items from their shopping list by picking up perfect gifts from RRT’s display.  Thanks to the RRT family, especially Kayla and Emily, for helping make our end of year happy hour extra special.

Also in December, OACGC staffed a complimentary gift wrapping table at REI to engage with people about our work in the Cincinnati community.  Shoppers were thankful for the help with wrapping their holiday gifts but were more appreciative of the adventures offered to local urban students by OACGC.  Still looking for a gift for the nature-lover in your family?  Consider making a gift to OACGC in their honor and share the love!

Conservation Corner: Why You Should Care About the ‘Find Your Park’ Campaign

Here’s what you need to know about the largest marketing campaign in National Parks history

The National Park Service doesn’t turn 100 until August 2016, but the celebration took off in earnest a few weeks ago with the launch of Find Your Park, a multimedia marketing campaign with the goal of making the National Parks System a destination for millennials (who records show aren’t visiting National Parks nearly as much as the generations before them) and urban dwellers.

Their plan is to give Park diehards a direct platform to pull newbies into the outdoors. “To preach the gospel about being active in these incredible places, Find Your Park equips our veteran explorers with a mobile and online sharing platform to use with the tools they already have, like their smartphones and apps,” says Clarence Fluker, Centennial Public Affairs Specialist at the National Park Service.

To do your part, visit, a site where visitors can upload photos and videos illustrating their national park experiences in hopes they will impact and inspire others to do the same. Kiosks that are appearing in cities around America, will display your work. Then take the “quiz,” really a series of three questions about your ability level, interests, and location that will suggest Park ideas, or if you allow the website to know your location, it will spit out suggestions based on where you are. Hit up the website’s Download Center, which offers free guides including The Places Nobody Knows (off the beaten path parks), 25 Unforgettable National Park Hikes, and Gimme Shelter (where you can sleep in and around National Parks).

Last year saw the highest number of national park visits in history, with 292.8 million visits. But the NPS expects to surpass that number in 2015 and 2016.

Read the full article from OutsideOnline here

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Conservation Corner, Director's Blog, OAC News|

Natural Facts: Beating Winter Blues

It’s thought the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects around 10 million people in the US and more than 12 million people across northern Europe. It can affect people of any age, including children.

Here are some tips from the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA):

1. Keep active
Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues.

2. Get outside
Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.

3. Keep warm
Being cold makes you more depressed. It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half. Keep warm with hot drinks and hot food. Wear warm clothes and shoes, and aim to keep your home between 64F and 70F.

4. Eat healthy
A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

5. See the light
Some people find light therapy effective for seasonal depression. One way to get light therapy at home in winter is to sit in front of a light box for up to two hours a day. Light boxes give out very bright light at least 10 times stronger than ordinary home and office lighting.

6. Take up a new hobby
Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD. It could be anything from writing to playing basketball. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to.

7. See your friends and family
It’s been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

8. Talk it through
Talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you cope with symptoms.

9. Join a support group
Think about joining a support group. Sharing your experience with others who know what it’s like to have SAD is very therapeutic and can make your symptoms more bearable.

10. Seek help
If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your doctor for medical help.

2017-01-13T02:59:04+00:00 Categories: Director's Blog, Natural Facts|