XENIA — In talking with Bill Schieman, it’s hard not to get a sense of his passion for his community, the outdoors and teaching others. It’s that passion that earned the Sugarcreek Township resident some recent recognition through the Greater Dayton Partnership for the Environment (GDPE), a local coalition of groups dedicated to protecting local natural resources.
Schieman received the group’s 2015 “Individual of the Year” Award in recognition of his volunteer work to protect cultural, environmental and natural resources in the area.
“It’s fantastic,” Schieman said. “I never expected it, and it’s humbling to be recognized for something like this.”
But even in receiving the award, Schieman isn’t looking to bask in the glow of the recognition. No, in fact, he’s looking to turn the award into a platform from which to promote the organizations he serves. And promote he does.
Whether it’s through his work as an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) or through the state’s Stream Quality Monitoring (SQM) program, his work is primarily centered around teaching both children and adults about environmental conservation and stewardship.
“If you can get children in the water or touching an animal, the earlier you can get them, the more you build that bond with nature,” he said. “My personal love is doing nature education programs with children. I focus a lot of my time on that.”
Schieman has also been instrumental in guiding the development of the Little Miami River Kleeners and the Little Miami Watershed Network, groups which exist to preserve the Little Miami River.Schieman has also served since 2002 on the Sugarcreek Township Board of Zoning Commission.
According to the GDPE, Schieman has volunteered more than 1,400 hours supporting various horticultural, conservation and stewardship activities.
Schieman is hoping that through his recognition, others will want to get involved with the OCVN and SQM groups. Information about both groups can be found at ocvn.osu.edu and watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/sqm, respectively.
So why does he do all he does? Why does he contribute all those volunteer hours? It’s simple: “I want to feel like I’m doing my part to leave my community in better shape than when I got here and leave my rivers and water and land in better shape,” he said. “I think its natural for us to want to do that, especially when you retire and are getting later in life, I think you look at things and you say, ‘What are the positive impact things that I can do right now with my life that will still exist after I’m gone?’”
“You can tell when you touch a child’s imagination or spark some kind of interest or you make a smart decision about the zoning and what to build on what piece of land, those are the kind of things that really form your legacy after you’re gone. That’s my motivation.”