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Wahkeena Featured

Wahkeena State Nature Preserve is located five miles south of Lancaster, Ohio. Mrs. Carmen Warner, who bought Wahkeena as a rundown hill farm and turned into an oasis of natural beauty, was an OAGC member. She willed the farm to the Ohio Historical Society and OAGC has been contributing to a fund, the interest of which is used solely to administer the preserve and provide educational services there. The Wahkeena Nature preserve is open to the public.


Wahkeena is on Pump Station Road 1 mile west of County Road 86, which is six miles south of Lancaster off of U.S. Route 33 in Fairfield County.

Exit Rt. 33 at Sharp Road (Traffic light) Turn right if coming from the north, turn left if coming from south. Turn at the first right, Old Logan Rd., and continue to Pump Station Road and turn left.

Click on map image to view a larger map, which will load in a new browser window.

Longaberger - Wahkeena Basket

Please note: All donations to Wahkeena should be made out to the
Ohio Association of Garden Clubs Foundation, Inc.

Wahkeena updates for OAGC funded projects


The small “silt” pond on the west side of the preserve had become silted in from years of erosion. During the winter of 2005, it was dredged. Prep work was completed on the pond in earlier months, including having the pond drained. This pond is used primarily for the Pond Study segment of our school program. Students have the opportunity to explore animal and plant life in a pond and discover how those living things interact with each other.

Winged Euonymus, Euonymus alatus, is a non-native, invasive species. Non-native/invasive plant species can be detrimental to native plants species and wildlife. These aliens’ rapid growth can crowd out native flora. Non-natives can shade out native plants by leafing out earlier in the spring than that of their native counterparts and retaining their foliage longer in the season. Also, non-natives in general, do not provide the same quality of food for wildlife that native plants do. Winged Euonymus was innocently introduced by Carman Warner as she was rehabbing the old farm. After more than 50 years of aggressive growth, this shrub had dominated much of the forest understory at Wahkeena. In the spring of 2005, work began to remove this unwanted alien. The majority of the work was done the following fall. However, this is a continuing project due to the undiscovered, isolated stands that remain, as well as the never ending young shoots and stump sprouts. Several areas where the Euonymus was removed, a native shrub Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, was planted in its place.


November and December of 2006 saw a couple of roof repairs at the preserve. In November, the cedar shingles on the Nature Center’s entry porch roof were replaced with new, treated cedar shingles. Then, in December, a new metal standing seam roof was put on the shed portion of the Casa Burro. This structure originally housed Carman’s pet burros.

Throughout 2006 and 2007, several landscape improvements were accomplished. Five “tree” Serviceberries, Amelanchier spp. and one “bush” Serviceberry were planted. Serviceberries bloom early in the spring, usually in April, with beautiful, white blossoms. Following the blooms are reddish colored berries that provide excellent wildlife food, especially for songbirds. One of the tree-type Serviceberries was planted on the northwest corner of the Nature Center, and the other four were planted in the Fern Terrace, near the potting shed. The bush-type Serviceberry was planted just behind the potting shed. These plantings replaced the Winged Euonymus that had been removed from these areas.

The north side of the Nature Center saw the creation of a native wildflower shade garden. Used for the border was the same cast “sandstone” barn stones used on the beds on the south side of the Nature Center. Most of the species planted in this new garden make their home in a woodland setting and bloom in the spring before many of the trees have leafed out. Included among the species of wildflowers planted here are Wild Ginger Asarum canadense, Bishop’s Cap Mitella diphylla, Foam Flower Tiarella cordifloia, Green Dragon Arisaema dracontium, Columbine Aquilegia Canadensis, Jack-in-the-Pulpit Arisaema atrorubens, and our state wildflower, Large Flowered Trillium Trillium grandiflorum.


In 2007, a new floating boardwalk was installed in the wetlands area, replacing the wooden one. Constant beaver activity created fluctuating water levels in this area, resulting in an often flooded boardwalk. The new floating boardwalk is made up of plastic floats, with plastic decking sections connecting everything together. Although there are a few minor things yet to be completed on the boardwalk, it has been useable since early summer of 2007. This new installment will guarantee that the boardwalk trail will not be closed due to flooding. The boardwalk trail gives visitors a unique opportunity to view wetland animal and plant species. This is a prime area to view some of the many dragonflies and damselflies that inhabit Wahkeena.

Personnel Updates

Tom Shisler will be entering his 29th year at Wahkeena in June. His tireless efforts ensure that the preserve stays maintained and improved. Tom’s years of knowledge and experience are invaluable to the Preserve, its staff, and its visitors.

In 2007, Wahkeena gained a seasonal Assistant Naturalist. Robyn Wright-Strauss, a former intern, filled the position and has returned for the 2008 season. One of the projects Robyn worked on was creating/improving Wahkeena’s sales area. There is now a small area of nature guides and other nature related items, including the OAGC 75th Anniversary throw and the Wahkeena Longaberger basket, for sale in the Nature Center.

Wahkeena will have two new interns for the 2008 season, both from Hocking College. Beckie Lawrence is from Henry County and is a first year Interpretation student. She will be joining the Wahkeena staff for the spring internship.

Krista Fairclough is from the Toledo area and has a retail background from her family’s fine jewelry store. She is also in her first year as an Interp. student, transferring from Lourdes College in Sylvania, Ohio. Krista will be joining the Wahkeena staff for the fall internship.

Future Projects

Landscape improvements and wildlife plantings will continue to be a focus in the future.

The current cedar shingle roof on the Nature Center is 25 years old and deteriorating. All or parts of the roof need to be replaced with new treated cedar shingles. These new shingles have a 50 year life span. This is a big project, and will be done in stages over the course of several years.

To Top

  OHS cannot use the funds for any other operation but only the Wahkeena Fund we have designated.  The General Fund is an endowment from which only the interest is used.
Since 10/1/98 OAGC has distributed checks to:

Wahkeena General Fund:  $44,237.95

Wahkeena Improvement:  $19,269.81

Wahkeena Landscape: $5,509.00

Wahkeena Birdseed:   $1,836.98

Total of $70,853.74 to all Wahkeena Funds.

 These are both amounts received in donations, board auctions, and transfers from profit amounts for trips/ Gardeners Day Out/Convention/Quilt and other raffles.

The Wahkeena Improvement Fund was established in 1996. Contributions help with the upkeep and to make needed improvements at the Nature Preserve. The current, 2002-3,  project will be to update and rejuvenate the landscaping at the Nature Center and add a butterfly and hummingbird garden.  Additional funds above the amount needed will benefit the Wahkeena Endowment Fund.

Notes from Wahkeena

During the fall 2002 board meeting of OAGC, Wahkeena  Site Manager and Naturalist, Tom Shisler,  was presented a check for $9689.04 (in addition to the $2300 given to him at the summer convention) to be added to the  Ohio Historical Society Wahkeena Endowment Fund.  These funds came from various activities of OAGC during the past year.  Past President, Anita Roller, with board approval,  directed these profits be added to the Wahkeena Endowment fund. This is a permanent fund that is managed by the OHS and used only for funding the Intern Program. Thousands of school children are educated each year at  Wahkeena  with the help of the interns working with Tom.  The total amount in the fund is more then $76,000 of which only the interest is spent.  President Jo Ann Graham, with the support of all OAGC members, will continue funding for this project during the next year, designating profits from future events to the Wahkeena Endowment Fund.  President Graham also has started a new fund for the landscaping improvements that are needed at Wahkeena.  She gave Tom as "seed" check for $719.00, which for the most part, was raised at the board meeting auction.  This will give him a start in preparing the new gardens.  The "Wahkeena Landscape Fund" will be used to rejuvenate the landscaping around the nature center, including the new butterfly/hummingbird gardens that are planned.

Go To Wahkeena Updates for 2004 -05

2001 "Improvement Projects"

1. Two new foot bridges on Shelter Trail

2. New wood shingle roof on Old Guest Cabin (Currently used for school programs)

3. Repairs to large rock spring that feeds the small "frog ponds"

4. 16 new folding chairs for Nature Center.

Beginning in  1996, thanks to the generous contributions from OAGC clubs and individuals several new improvements were made to the  Wahkeena Nature Preserve.  (During the terms of presidents Faye Collins and Charlene Thornhill) 
The largest project was the construction of a new multi-purpose shelter house.  The shelter is used by visiting school groups and is also available for garden clubs and other groups.  The shelter is equipped with benches that convert to picnic tables and is located on a wooded knoll a short distance from the Nature Center.


Other improvements include new exhibit and storage space in the Nature Center and refurbishing of existing displays.  New blinds and carpet were installed in the nature center exhibit area.  Also, a new exhibit explains the natural history of the 1 year Periodical Cicada which emerged in large numbers over much of the eastern part of Ohio that summer.  

Major renovation  was done to the existing "frog ponds".   An existing shelter on the main trail received a new "shake" roof and sill logs were replaced on the interpretive cabin.     

All of these projects  would not have been possible without the tremendous support from OAGC and the dedicated leadership of past Presidents, Faye Collins and  Charlene Thornhill, and the continuing support of current president Anita Roller.   Thanks to each and everyone of you who helped to make dreams come true!

Contact Tom Shisler at:

Ohio Historical Society
More Information
Informative Wahkeena Article by Peggy Case, 
Garden Path Editor

Web Design  by Jan Harmon for OAGC