CNOtes – April 21, 2020 – Heather Dorsten -The Learning Tree Farm

A Replay of the ZOOM Meeting is Here

NOTE: The actual meeting starts at 19:35 – if you enjoy watching the socializing and member banter, I left it in – some of it is pretty fumy!


In keeping with social distancing requirements – our CNO Meetings have transitioned temporarily to a online format using ZOOM.

Club Member Joe Madden was inspire to rewrite The Optimist Creed – so we give you now – The Corona Creed -with apologies to Christian D. Larson, Author of The Optimist Creed.

Zoom Meeting This Week

Yankee Trace is still closed. We had another meeting using Zoom. We will continue our weekly meetings via computer, cell phone or tablet for at least the next several weeks. Please join us and keep inviting guests.

2020-2021 Officers and Board of Directors Nominations for CNO

The nomination committee of the Centerville Noon Optimist Club, comprised of past presidents, the current president and incoming president have nominated the following people for Optimist Year 2020-2021:

  • President Elect, Gary Hansen
  • Vice Presidents, Beth Duncan and Bill Williams
  • Board of Directors for 2-year terms: Christine Balsan, Pat Behn, Bob Glavin, Jim Long, and Brian Nolan
  • Board Members with a year left to serve: Amy Barker, Denise O’Neil, Vince Reidy, Carolyn Taylor, and Greg Wasmund
  • Debe Dockins is the president for 2020-2021 and she has chosen Nancy Lehren as her past president representative. Greg Griffin will serve as the Immediate Past President.
  • The incoming president chooses the Treasurer and Secretary. Debe Dockins has selected Roland Rapp for Treasurer and Jean Pummill for Secretary. They are both currently serving in those positions.

We will hear from each of the nominated board members and officers over the next 3 or 4 weeks.


Evelyn Griffin, Skilled Trade Scholarships, announced the committee has received student applications and they will meet soon via Zoom.

Mike Bevis, golf committee, announced the committee had a good meeting last week deciding how to handle the golf outing this year with social distancing. Options discussed included staged flights of golfers and not hosting a dinner. They are trying to be prepared in case social distancing is still in effect when the tournament is held this fall.

Tom Novak, Avenue of Flags, announced he needs volunteers for the annual flag checkups before the first flag deliveries. The checkups are scheduled for May 1st from 10am – 5pm and May 2nd from 10am – 12pm. We will also build 200 new flags that day. Every subscriber’s in ground flag sleeve needs to be checked that it is exposed and is still straight. This saves a lot of time during flag delivery.

Mike Brubaker, Avenue of Flags, announced that close to 90% of last year subscribers have renewed so far.

Heather Dorsten, the Learning Tree Farm

Mike Bevis introduced today’s speaker, Heather Dorsten, the executive director of the Learning Tree Farm. Heather is originally from Vandalia, Ohio and was raised with a love of the outdoors and the heart of a volunteer through her parents who worked and volunteered at Aullwood Nature Center and took the family camping on a regular basis. She is the former director of the Troy Strawberry Festival. She became the executive director of the Learning Tree Farm during the spring of 2019.

They have a Facebook page,

You can view the slide deck Heather presented here.

Their mission statement is to engage people in hands-on, nature-based learning in a timeless farm setting. More details are available at

Learning Tree Farm was founded by teachers Sally Keyes and Jean Ryan in 1973. In the 1970’s the ladies noticed that not all kids learn the same way and many had not been exposed to nature. In 1973 they began hosting small student groups at the farm. The first kids were from Dayton’s inner city and they were excited to be there. It amazed them to see so many trees in one place. Since its small beginning it has grown to host 14,000 people per year.

They are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, located in West Dayton on 85 acres of protected farmyard, field and forest. Most visitors come from the numerous school field trips they host. In 2015, the farm began expanding its programming to include families and preschoolers. Drop in visitors are welcome and have a suggested donation of $3/person or $12/family. Their actual cost to host each visitor is $13/person/visit.

Spring and Fall are the busiest times of the year. Summer is typically field trips from child daycare centers.

Learning Tree Farm Facilities

  • 2 Barns
  • Shelter House
  • Fire Ring
  • Playground (currently being expanded)
  • Living tasting gardens with several raised beds of various vegetables
  • Woods for exploring, complete with a tire swing

Kids can pull vegetables directly from the tasting gardens and try the vegetables. Heather said she likes to see the look on kid’s faces when they taste radishes for the first time. Kid’s learn about planting, weeding and experience new flavors.

There is a nature preschool. The kids go outside everyday regardless of the weather. Getting kids away from screens and back to nature is a very popular idea right now.

Fitness is built into their programs with hiking, a tire swing, an obstacle course, goat yoga and plenty of space to run around.

They have several animal pens. Unlike most facilities with animals they let kids in the pens and they are free to pet and hold them. Spring is popular because of the new baby animals.

Additional Activities and Programs

  • Centerville Washington Foundation is sponsoring Saturday Fun Days
  • Various summer camps
  • Autumn Fest is held each fall; it is currently scheduled for 9/26/2020 from 10 AM to 4 PM
  • Scholarships are given to low income families to make it affordable for all children
  • Businesses have team building activities at the farm; often it is volunteering to help with chores and projects the farm needs

Current Projects:

  • Increasing security on the property
  • Adding city water access
  • Adding hand-wash stations and water fountains
  • Adding a Garden Washing Station

Current Needs:

  • Funding for education signage to be placed on various pens and areas
  • Funding to fix the tasting garden boxes
  • Funding to expand the playground
  • Funding to increase accessibility for the disabled
  • Donations to their capital campaign

Response to Covid-19 Restrictions

In response to current Covid-19 restrictions, they are offering virtual learning and engagement. For example, they have pictures and videos of the latest baby animals on Facebook.


Thank You Notes sent to CNO

You can read recent thank you notes here.

CNO Donations 2013 through June 2019

Click this link to see a summary of the donations our club has made.

Over 50 years, we have donated close to $2,000,000 to our youth community. In the past 6 years, we have donated nearly $700,000.

Thank You Notes

No thank you notes received this week.

CNO Donations 2013 through September 2019

Click this link to see a summary of the donations our club has made.

Over 50 years, we have donated close to $2,000,000 to our youth community. In the past 6 years, we have donated nearly $700,000.


Member Birthday
Sue Zammit April 21
Mike Brem April 22
Dave Klein April 22
Keith Meyer April 23

Membership Anniversaries

Member Month Day Joined # Years
Mark Petre April 22 4/22/1996 24
Donna Huss April 24 4/24/2012 8
Dr. Dan Passidomo April 25 4/25/2007 13
Mike Witt April 26 4/26/1994 26

New Member Readings and Inductions

Name Sponsor 1st 2nd 3rd Reading or Induction
Maureen Ruff Debe Dockins 3rd Reading
Anne Miller Evelyn Griffin Induction

Sergeants at Arms

No Sergeants this week. 

Happy Bucks

No Happy Bucks this week.