Habitat Discovery Garden

Solar Roof on Pavilion

An early decision in the planning of the Habitat Discovery Garden, on the south side of Norwayne Elementary School, was to incorporate renewable energy in an effort to reduce the environmental impact. Keith Speirs, an architect and project manager of the Wayne County Sustainable Energy Network, designed the pavilion to have a south facing roof with an appropriate angle to support a photovoltaic (PV) system. Funding for the system was profided by the Romich Foundation. Community volunteers were involved in the application of the flexible Uni-Solar panels to the standing seam steel roof. Appreciation is hereby noted for the efforts of Trena Sheppard in coordinating this initiative.


The south facing pavilion roof has solar panels that generate electricity. The energy produced offsets the energy needed to run the 600 watt waterfall pump. Otherwise, the energy (about 80% from burning coal) would consume around one ton of coal every year. Burning coal pollutes our environment, generates greenhouse gases and causes mountain top removal. The renewable energy generated here contributes to a safer and healthier environment for children everywhere.

The solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity, which goes through a disconnect switch and then enters the building. A grid tie power inverter converts the electricity to alternating current (AC) and puts it into the school power lines. This reduced the energy being purchased from the power company.

Students in science classes can see the solar energy production information on a portable wireless display.
The same information is available at:

Username: Wayne PV
Password: bobcats


Plant Markers

Plant markers were fabricated by Romich Foundation by using scrap galvanized steel roofing material from the pavilion project. Jacki Leatherman provided Barry Romich with a list of plant names. Barry used a laser engraver to remove the black roofing material coating to expose the galvanize.

Stainless steel support rods were donated by Canron Manufacturing,

We think this is the caterpillar of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) butterfly. Around May 19 we had seen eggs being laid on the Bronze Fennel. This photo was taken with a phone camera on June 16, 2012.



As with the plant markers, the garden placards were fabricated from scrap roofing material from another project.



May 20, 2012

Announcement page 1

Announcement page 2
(.pdf files around 1.3M each)

( below from The Daily Record)

From a seed grows a garden

Sunday dedication of Norwayne Habitat Discovery Garden grand finale to project.
Garden dedication presents possibilities for community, students.
By CHRISTINE L. PRATT Staff Writer Published: May 25, 2012 4:00AM

NORWAYNE DISTRICT -- The grand finale to a three-year project, Sunday's dedication of the Norwayne Elementary Habitat Discovery Garden also was a representation of the world of possibilities for the community and students to come.

The outdoor classroom and community garden, although already in use, is officially open for business, according to project chairman and "visionary" Trena Sheppard.

While many others contributed time, talents and funding, it was Sheppard who supplied the dream on which the garden was built, according to Superintendent Larry Acker, who praised her and all those who made it possible. The culmination is "reflective of this wonderful Norwayne community," he said.

Completion of the project is a testament to the "quality of the people in the community and the things they can attain when they take the bull by the horns," said Norwayne Elementary Principal Andy Froelich, pointing also to the stadium and district-wide building projects.

"This is truly a community project," but one that would not have been completed were it not for Sheppard. "She planted a seed and nurtured it timelessly. When Trena sets her mind to something, with a smile on her face and indomitable will, it gets done."

With the work done, Sheppard said, the time has come to "spread the word" about the garden, which, although located at the school "is for the community as well."

"It is a natural playground," said Sheppard, who was inspired by a Division of Wildlife magazine article and saw within her community the potential for an alternative learning opportunity.

"It encourages getting back in touch with nature, hands-on exploring, teamwork and thinking outside the box. Not every student is book smart, but they could be hands-on smart. I think this applies with adults as well. So three years ago, it was a possibility. Today, it's ready to be used by Norwayne Elementary and the community," she said.

Already the garden has been employed by staff and students at the school, according to several students who spoke at the program.

They've wandered into it during art, science and language arts class. They've used it as inspiration for poetry, they've studied and drawn the parts of flowers, they've explored the natural habitats of the many species that have started to find homes in the garden.

Within the Habitat Discovery Garden, there are many smaller gardens, said Sheppard. They are the Charlotte's Web literacy garden, a sensory garden, a geo-rock garden, a Secret Garden, a water garden, a butterfly garden, a human sundial, a mini-meadow, a composting area and a Peter Rabbit garden.

Within the Secret Garden, built on the theme of the book with the same name, there are plants that, once matured, will grow to create a niche area in which someone can hide away to enjoy a book in private, said Sheppard, who said the water garden now is a favorite for students.

Sheppard said she was honored by certification of the garden as a "WILD OHIO" school site. On hand to present the recognition, along with designation signs, was Jamey Graham of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. WILD OHIO school sites, she said, are about building and using outdoor learning areas to better educate students about the world that surrounds them, she said, noting the simple presence of fresh air while reading a book "wakes you up," and it's an experience that can be a part of the curriculum without taking a field trip.

Neighbor Barry Romich, who donated the solar panels that were installed on the roof of the pavilion said he is pleased to have been part of the project which is "a reminder of the community we live in."

Energy from the solar panels offsets that which is used to operate the waterfalls in the water garden, 24/7, April-October, said Romich, noting without solar energy a ton of coal a year would be expended to do the same job.

"I'm concerned about the environmental impact," he said, adding the waterfalls "is one of the most beautiful features."

Within the garden, he said, "we're starting to see tadpoles and frog eggs. There's a swallowtail butterfly laying eggs. This is going to be a fantastic classroom."

Norwayne Elementary School fifth-grade students Abbie Spring (left) and Elise Bonezzi enjoy their favorite part of the school's new garden, the waterfalls. The two were invited to sing the national anthem to kick off the dedication of the Habitat Discovery Garden on Sunday.

Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or cpratt@the-daily-record.com.


Trena and Eric Sheppard


Return to Norwayne Local Schools.

Return to Grants page.

Return to Romich Foundation home page.