#HomeGrownStories – Scott Myers

Scott Myers has served as the Director of the Miami County Parks District for the past five years. Growing up in rural Hancock County, Scott never aspired to work in agriculture or on a farm. Today he goes to work every day at the Historic Knoop Homestead. His office sits in the Knoop’s Victorian Era farmhouse. While he never expected to work on a farm, he enjoys every minute of it. Scott has called Troy home for half of his life and loves the sense of community in Miami County.

On living in Miami County:
I grew up on a small farm in Northwest Ohio and my wife grew up in Troy. We met as students at Ohio State University. We got married at Saint Pat’s here in Troy twenty-five years ago this year. I’ve lived here almost as long as I lived in Mount Blanchard (where I’m from). I love living here. Miami County is such a great place. There are a lot of similarities between Miami County and Hancock County. They both are agricultural, rural communities with that hometown feel.

How he started working for the Miami County Park District:
I worked for the Parks Department in the city of Springfield for nine years. For five years I was the Parks and Rec Superintendent for the City of Piqua. Around 2007 the Miami County Park District created a deputy director position. This was part of a succession plan for Jerry Eldred who was the director at the time. I was very fortunate to be selected to fill that deputy director position. When Jerry retired in 2012 I became the director for the Miami County Park District. It’s been awesome!

I find it interesting that when I was growing up on a small farm I didn’t want to be a farmer. I didn’t want to live on a farm. Now my office is on a farm and I love driving in here every day because it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s very calm and peaceful. I’ve been with the parks district for almost ten years now–it will be ten years this August.

I raised my family here and we spent a lot of time in the parks when my kids were growing up. They’re grown now, but when they were little we would go to Charleston Falls. The scouts would go hiking at Stillwater Prairie. My kids went to the Banana Slug String Band performance. The parks always fascinated me, especially since I worked in a parks department. I always thought that the Miami County Parks District did a good job. I knew that I’d love working for the Miami County Parks District. I was fortunate when the opportunity came to work as the deputy director.

On the community response to the Miami County Park District’s programming, and events:
We’ve gotten tremendous support from the community. Folks have shown an interest in doing more in the parks. Part of the interest comes from young people that love to do outdoor activities. They want to be out in nature or on the river or the bike trail. They want to have great places to do that and the park district offers that. We have amped up our programming quite a bit in the last the last several years. We have a very creative and forward thinking staff with a lot of initiative. We’re very open to new stuff and want to offer a lot of different programs and events in the parks.

Five years ago we started mailing out a postcard. It was the size of an actual postcard or half a sheet of paper, with all our programs listed on one side. We sent out our most recent “postcard” this year it was an entire sheet of paper. It’s an 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper, the inside is all public programming. We still call this mailing a postcard though [laughs].

Our community has had an increasing interest in health and wellness activities. We have plenty of space in the parks to offer a lot of health related programming. The parks are a great place to get healthy. A lot of our programs focus on health and wellness, which have been popular. We now have a summer camp program called Eco-Splorers. Those fill up quickly – three of the five filled up in the first eight days of registration.

Our personal relationships with the community have also led to new programs. These relationships usually come through our families. Our Deputy Director, Kevin Swanson, and I both have been coaches for our kid’s sports teams. Our families develop personal relationships with the community which leads to partnerships. Folks feel comfortable asking us for help or sharing an idea because they know us.

Between 2005 and 2010 we had several new parks open to the public. Some of these parks are Hobart Urban Nature Preserve, Lost Creek Reserve, John A. Wannemacher Nature Reserve and Maple Ridge Reserve. For the longest time, we only had Stillwater Prairie Reserve, Charleston Falls Preserve and the Garbry Big Woods Reserve and Sanctuary open to the public. Ohio voters passed the Clean Ohio Fund and the district was able to buy land for conservation.

The Miami County Park District’s most popular programs:
We have several popular programs. The Banana Slug String Band program that we do with the local schools is really popular. In the next few days, we will have 3,500 kids at Stillwater Prairie for the Banana Slug program. Our most popular event is Fall Farm Fest. It’s held at Lost Creek Reserve during the second weekend in October every year. Last year was our sixth year for the event and we hosted well over 12,000 people for the weekend. Our dog socials are also very popular.

What he loves most about Miami County:
What I like the most about Miami County is the sense of community. It’s hard to describe, but people love to get together in Miami County. Folks love to go to festivals and events with other members of the community. We have concerts in downtown Troy or at Lock 9 Park in Piqua. There are festivals like the Troy Strawberry Festival and the Tipp City Mum Festival. My daughter is in the band at Troy High School. I can’t think of anywhere else you could have a local band fundraiser and sell 15,000 dozen strawberry donuts. We also have events like 5K runs and the Tour de Donut. People love to spend time together and help each other out.

That sense of community support and volunteerism is a tradition in Miami County. Our city and county parks are named after families that started this tradition. These families are the Hobarts, the Meekers, the Garbrys, the Knoops and the French family. That sense of volunteerism and community is why I love living in Miami County.

His Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
I always push the bike trail, because I’m a little biased, but I love the bike trail. From Eldean Covered Bridge to the Piqua city limits is the best stretch of bike trail in southwest Ohio. You have local history since you’re on the Miami-Erie Canal towpath. You also have the covered bridge and the twin arch flagstone culverts. You go on the Robert J. Shook Bikeway Bridge and you go underneath on Interstate 75 — which is neat. One of my favorite spots is on the Robert J. Shook Bikeway Bridge. I like to stand on one of the lookouts, look down on the river and watch it go by. It’s so peaceful and calm. The path goes along the river and there’s the little waterfall by Peterson Road. It’s such a beautiful stretch, that’s one of my favorite things to recommend. Even if you’re going for a walk, you can go from Eldean Road to the Bikeway Bridge or Peterson Road, that’s a great stretch. Charleston Falls is also great, which I know other folks have said.

If people are coming to town for the day, we recommend going to one of the downtowns and eat. It doesn’t matter which. You can try something on Main Street in Piqua or Beppo Uno. You could go to downtown Troy, downtown Tipp City or Buffalo Jack’s in Covington. There are so many great, locally owned restaurants. They are unique and have great local flavor.

The concerts in downtown Troy and the concerts in Piqua at Lock 9 Park are great. That’s what’s so unique with Miami County, there is such a musical flavor. There are so many concerts and so many things for people of all ages to do related to music. My wife and I attended one of the first concerts held at Treasure Island in Troy. We were sitting on the levee to watch the concert. I noticed a group of kids between the amphitheater and the river throwing a football. Across the river, there were people riding bikes on the bikeway. People were sitting up on the levee to listen to the concert from across the river.  People were eating and drinking and having a good time listening to music on the levee. And then I saw a couple of kayaks go by on the water. There were all these people doing what they want to do, all in one spot. That was really cool. It was fascinating sitting there and seeing all those activities going on at once. As a parks person, this is what it’s all about.

Miami County Park District
Facebook: @miamicoparks
Instagram: @miamicoparks

Follow our storyteller and interviewer, Courtney Denning, at ThisOhioLife.com.