Caring for Earth, Caring for You: Celebrating Catholic Sisters Week with S. Joyce Richter
Those who know S. Joyce Richter are well aware of her love for the outdoors and nature. An avid walker, who continues to train for and participate in the Cincinnati Flying Pig half marathon each year, S. Joyce has spent hours hiking the Bender Mountain Nature Preserve located near the Motherhouse property. It was this passion for exercise, nature and wildflowers that eventually led to her involvement in the Western Wildlife Corridor (WWC).
As she explains, “S. Jean Miller invited me to accompany Dan Boone, a local naturalist, as he was creating a vascular plant survey of the Bender Woods. I learned a lot about flowers from him.” Developing a deep appreciation for the 130-acre preserve filled with flowers, plants and trees, she felt drawn to learning and doing more.
A member of WWC’s Board of Trustees, S. Joyce has been involved with the organization for the last 12 years. In addition to serving on its Board, she is responsible for the organization’s electronic mailings – meant to inform and inspire others to become more engaged. She enjoys leading hikes, primarily along the Bender property, and educating others about the area as well as the importance in removing invasive species. “If we don’t [remove them] then they take over. One of the benefits that’s happened with the removal of honeysuckle, is that the native plants have come back again. Dr. Denis Conover, botanist with the University of Cincinnati, has described the area as the ‘best place in Hamilton County to observe native wildflowers.’”
S. Joyce is an advocate for the organization, participating in almost all of Western Wildlife Corridor’s flower-a-thons. The organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the flower-a-thon is an opportunity for participants to have fun while increasing their knowledge and appreciation for local forests and wildflowers.
She sincerely believes in the mission of WWC and is impressed with their unyielding efforts in land restoration in the western part of Cincinnati. Her participation in the organization led her to become an Ohio-certified volunteer naturalist after taking a 40-hour online course with The Ohio State University Extension and completing 40 volunteer service hours with Western Wildlife Corridor. She’s become more educated on recycling, taking a master recycling class several years ago through Hamilton County’s Recycling Program.
“It’s so important to care for the Earth,” says S. Joyce. “There are recycling opportunities everywhere, otherwise we just continue to add to the waste. The oceans are getting filled. Other places are getting polluted from all that we throw away. You can start small with recycling and hopefully it will branch into other ways of living.”
S. Joyce has been involved with the Sustainability Program at Mount St. Joseph University and with St. Anthony Church’s “Beyond the Bin” program. She organized several Community-wide book exchange days and a recycling day during congregational gatherings. Recently she has begun volunteering at Cincinnati’s Recycling and Reuse Hub in lower Price Hill (Cincinnati).
S. Joyce explains that WWC is always looking for more volunteers to get involved and to be a part of the cause. She has offered presentations on the Bender Mountain Nature Preserve, hoping to inspire others to act and enjoy the trails. “Just get out and enjoy nature; it does something for the soul,” she says.
About the Bender Mountain Nature Preserve
Bender Mountain consists of 130 wooded acres (12.7 acres owned by Western Wildlife Corridor, 42.4 owned by Delhi Township and 74.5 owned by the Sisters of Charity). Throughout the preserve, there are many vascular plants, which includes trees and wildflowers. However, among these plants, there are also many invasive species like honeysuckle. After the removal of invasive honeysuckle, the preserve saw a resurgence of 431 native plants. The preserve also has an abundance of wildlife throughout the trails.
The Western Wildlife Corridor serves to protect, restore, and preserve natural habitats by providing education to foster connections with nature. Appropriately, WWC has provided a QR code that is present in multiple areas of Bender Mountain that provides a map of the woods.