Extension agent speaker for Woman’s Club of Mingo

The April meeting of the GFWC Woman’s Club of Mingo Junction was held at the Mingo Senior Center with Sharon Cole-Isner presiding and Shelly Bateman giving the opening prayer.

Janet Petrella led in opening exercises.

Stephanie Rouse introduced guest speaker Sarah Cross, Extension educator in Jefferson and Harrison counties with the Ohio State University Extension since September 2013.

Cross told members she grew up on a small horse farm in the hills of eastern West Virginia and graduated in 2006 from the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a minor in wilderness studies. She earned her mast’ers degree in agriculture from West Virginia University in 2009, where she was a graduate assistant for an Extension service state specialist. During that time, she started a new WVU Extension fruit and vegetable farm in Weston, W.Va.

The following year, Cross said she worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a plant protection aid, then worked in 2011 as an Environmental Protection Agency private environmental contractor and emergency responder. Next, she worked for a private contractor in Eastern Ohio as a field geologist, collecting baseline water samples for the oil and gas industry.

Cross’ Power Point presentation for the club focused on invasive species and how they got here. An invasive species is a plant growing outside its native or natural range, often human introduced, she said. Of the 3,000 plant species in the wild in Ohio, about 75 percent are native, meaning they were present before the time of substantial European settlement-around 1750.

Of the remaining 25 percent – more than 700 non-native plants – fewer than 100 are known to be problems in natural areas, according to Cross, who said some were introduced with good intentions, including medicinal uses, culinary purposes, horticultural/landscapes, erosion control and forage. Some also developed by accident in seed mixes, crating and cargo, for example.

Invasives come in all shapes and sizes, said Cross, who noted they disrupt insect-plant associations necessary for seed dispersal of native plants, disrupt native plant-pollinator relationships and reduce vigor of mature forest trees. They impact forests and birds.

She said there are several control methods, one of which is mechanical.

It is everyone’s responsibility to learn to identify and control invasive plants, according to Cross. “Invasive plants threaten our natural habitats, such as forestland, as well as domesticated environments, such as cropland,” she said. “For example, in an Ohio forestland, invasive plant species, such as honeysuckle and garlic mustard, tend to take over the understory. This diables native trees, such as oaks and maples, to become easily established. In turn, this hurts our forest industry,” Cross said.

She directed club members interested in reading about Ohio’s invasive plants to visit www.ohioline.osu.edu.

Roetta Lewis gave a report on Legislation Day that the club hosted and thanked members for their participation.

Plans were finalized for the May banquet to be held at Mill Creek Inn on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to the theme of “Throw Back Thursday.” Members are invited to dress accordingly if they desire and are asked to bring memorabilia and pictures from past club years. New officers will be installed. Cole-Isner will give a report on the club’s mystery theater fundraiser.

Members were reminded about the dates of the state convention in Columbus.

Stephanie Rouse gave a report on the “planting” of the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign at each entrance to the Village of Mingo Junction. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and is recognized by General Federation of Women’s Clubs across the country.

Joanne Gorney won the door prize.

Polly Hubbard was a guest.

Members of the Community Service Project, Conservation Services, served as hostesses with Rouse as chairman and assisted by Bateman and Patti Nelms.