I.S. Spotlight: Ash Arons

Environmental Studies Major, Class of 2023

Ash is from Midland, MI where xey grew up hiking in the city’s forests. Xey began research with Dr. Jennifer Ison and Dr. Matthew Mariola as a pollinator garden assistant. Ash spent the next two summers on Wooster’s campus studying bees and insects. Here, xey helped build the college garden located on College Avenue and Pearl Street and added more native perennial plants to the pine patch located south of Ruth Williams. Ash spent time gardening, blogging and working with identifying insects. 

Ash’s I.S. focuses on brownfield bees and constructing community designed signage. Influenced by xeir time working at the pollinator patches on campus, Ash decided to continue with the methods xey learned over xeir sophomore and junior summers. Utilizing mixed methods through a combination of surveys, pan traps and transects, Arons did a sampling of the bees present within William J. Robertson Nature Preserve (WJRNP) in Rittman, Ohio. 

Having identified over 50 solitary bees, Ash aims to provide support for the notion that brownfields (revitalized areas of prior industry) are important foraging and nesting grounds for solitary native bees. Located in an urban, suburban and rural setting, WJRNP is situated in a place where honey bee presence may be felt from within the city or amidst the swaths of monoculture they were brought to pollinate. 

Working with members of the Rittman and WJRNP community, Ash’s workshop consists of designing signage that emphasizes both the importance of understanding local bee ecology and the site’s prior history as a paper packing plant. The workshop created signs to accompany more than seven miles of trails at WJRNP, connecting communities to one another. Volunteers were additionally encouraged to make signs that shared their art, poetry, memories, recipes, words of wisdom or reflections of WJRNP. 

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