The Green DuBois Task Force was formed by the Conference Executive Committee in the summer of 2018. This initiative sprang from the work of Marty Kemper, a retired biologist and dedicated volunteer, who wrote a comprehensive Forest Management Plan for the camp. We discovered we have a great deal of biodiversity at our outdoor ministry site, including more than 150 species of birds that live or migrate through DuBois, along with nearly five dozen rare plants in need of conservation.
The Green DuBois initiative aims to highlight and protect these resources through three branches of work: 1) the flowering branch, where we show people what we have; 2) the woody branch, where we focus on active forest management and take are of what we’ve got; and 3) the leafy branch, where we expand our sustainable practices and lower our impact on the environment.
A team of people from across the Conference have been working on Green DuBois in recent months. The flowering branch has hosted nature walks and presentations at camp events including the thank you party. The concrete basins by Roadside Cottage were planted with herbs by Janet Darmour-Paul. A milkweed seed ball activity was part of this year’s Fall Festival. Work has begun on creating flower ID cards for specific trails, as well as on rejuvenating the flower beds near the office into a pollinator garden. A nature retreat is planned for Spring, 2020 that’s focused on photography, birding and spring wildflowers.
Woody Branch projects have included removing hundreds of invasive species on recent Stewardship Days. We purchased tools and safety equipment specific for this job, and with the help of David Shanks, we have a tool locker made of repurposed wood to keep everything in. We have no shortage of bush honeysuckle at camp, but we’re working on it. Team members also collected seeds from rare Shooting Star plants at picnic point for placement in more protected areas;
Leafy Branch projects have included: removal of nearly 18,000 lbs of scrap metal from the property; removal of a full-to-the-top 10 yard dumpster of scrap wood from the wood shed; cleaning the Gator Shed and making space for Green DuBois storage; and adding a rain water collection system to the Nature’s Classroom storage shed.
Administratively, we have created a team logo and slogan, Creation Celebration!; and started a conference fund for donations (with seed money from the Conference, and additional funds from donors).
Three special things occurred since the last Annual Meeting that reach across all three branches. One is the welcoming of two bee hives to Deer Run. These are managed by our head beekeeper Rev. John Pawloski. They moved into their new home on Easter Sunday. Green Dubois folks gathered a week later to see Rev. Shana Johnson give a blessing over the bees. Though getting through their first winter is a tricky time, we are hopeful they will continue to thrive and multiply. Bees represent an opportunity for environmental education, a way to sustain pollination for our wildflowers, and could possibly be a source of Fall Festival income with honey down the road.
The second special thing that happened is the gift of St. Paul UCC in Freeburg taking on a big piece of a Green DuBois project as a part of their mission work at camp. Team members had ideas to repurpose the three Deer Run Cabins into environmental education space but considered them as a ‘down the road’ goal because they needed foundation and electrical work. A team from St. Paul has worked hard the past few months, and as of this report the cabins now have solid foundations and level floors, along with eight foot extended decks. Electrical wiring and fixtures, with accessible ramps and paths are coming soon. By sometime next year, the cabins will become an environmental education space, a nature observation blind for photography and bird watching, and a day retreat space for writing, thinking, mediating and praying. These cabins will further all three Green DuBois branches in so many ways.
And lastly, Green DuBois was blessed by the work of Rev. Don Wagner with the creation of first a Lenten Devotional, and then this October, with an Advent Devotional. These are stunning documents tell the story of God’s creation at DuBois Center in words and photos. They are simply a treasure.
Thank you to all the folks who have worked on Green DuBois projects and planning, and to those who have donated to support these efforts. There is more to do, with activities for every skill and ability. Watch Weekly Connection for the next meeting or Stewardship Day.
Submitted by Jill Baker, Green DuBois Chair