YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – This week’s Hometown Hero is also known as the “Queen Bee of Mill Creek Park.”
Lori Mowad is not a Youngstown native, but she fell in love with Mill Creek Park. She uses honey to bring nature to children in the Valley.
Kids at Mill Creek MetroParks were busy as bees Wednesday. Mowad orchestrated the free event.
“In the main garden, it’s just looking, but over here we try to examine different flowers and plants, we teach the children where their food comes from,” Mowad said.
Her passion paved the way for her current position. She has been associated with the parks in some capacity since 1996 and a few years ago she learned how to harvest honey.
“She’s really a go-getter. She really is passionate about teaching people about plants and having that connection, especially with children,” Mandy Smith, a horticulture education specialist said.
Horticulture Director Keith Kaiser has witnessed huge growth to the program.
“Oh yes, when we have 150 to 200 people here for a Friday morning for these Family Fun Fridays. It’s exciting,” Kaiser said.
Businesses from around the community donate to help make it happen.
“We have the Friend of Fellows Riverside Gardens that underwrites us here. When I needed a tunnel for last year’s Alice in Wonderland, a paving company donated that. When I needed mulch I called Altiere’s and they were so gracious,” Mowad said.
Anyone spending 5 minutes with Mowad knows why she was nominated as a Hometown Hero.
“Every Friday the kids get to take a plant home. But before they can get it they have to tell me what the roots are, what the stem is, what the leaves are, the flower,” Mowad said.
Giving things away on a weekly basis gets pricey, so Mowad thought outside the box.
“We have six beehives here. They are Lanstreff beehives. We can teach kids how the bees produce honey and wax in their natural form. And I’m so lucky to have Don Kovach from the Beekeepers Association. He has mentored me for two years,” Mowad said.
Luckily for Mowad, there is money in this honey.
“Our honey is really popular. We had 225 pounds of honey last year and we sold it in about three weeks. We couldn’t do it without the gift shop and the staff that help,” Mowad said.
The honey she sells helps fund the unique programming.
“It takes about $50 to $75 for every single Friday to be able to give children plants and pots and creative activities and all the different tastings. We’ll make like salsa and we’ll make honey butter for the kids, each week it’s something different,” Mowad said.
Family Fun Fridays are held every Friday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fellows Riverside Gardens off Mahoning Avenue.