In Warren County, Ohio, the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Park District collaborated to combine solar energy to power a park with pollinator habitat and an educational trail. The Solar Pollinator Habitat Discovery Trail was created to bring awareness to the public about clean energy and about the importance of pollinators to our food system.
Through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Rocknoll Energy Systems, a 275.6-kW solar array was installed and put into service in 2019. The system was designed to supply Armco Park with more than enough power to operate a pavilion, golf clubhouse, ball fields, and park shelters.
An Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF) grant was awarded through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) to develop the educational components of the project. This includes the Discovery Trail with seven interactive learning stations that highlight the science of pollinators and solar power. The station signage created by educators highlights the importance and natural behavior of pollinators and how individuals can create habitat for them. In addition, there are explanations of how solar panels work and the benefits of combining them with pollinator habitat.
The project also created an educational video series and a community involvement component. In the spring of 2021, community volunteers helped with the planting and watering of a native plant plot on the site. The site serves as a hub for the Conservation District and Park District to host in-person educational programs.
The trail’s creators hope it will help visitors take away knowledge about energy conservation and clean energy production, as well as how to help support pollinators through habitat development and protection.