I'd like to take a moment to introduce myself, my name is Aryeh Alex and I'm the new President of the Friends of Metro Parks. Our Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks are something very special to me, in fact they helped save my life.
Several years ago, my doctor told me that my excessive weight and lack of physical activity was going to result in my life being significantly shortened. This eye-opening statement, to someone who thought they were invisible, was a wake up call—and I was determined to take action and get in shape. But it wasn't as easy I had hoped. Walking on a paved trail in Sharon Woods Metro Park was a real struggle, yet I persisted.
My strength and energy increased with every step I took and I noticed something on my walks: nature. I had never really taken the time to see all of the beautiful tall trees, wild flowers, and animals that surround us and I wanted to see and learn more.
I started exploring all of our Metro Parks in Central Ohio. I hiked around Big Darby Creek, scrambled up the hills of Clear Creek, and was chased by turkeys in Blendon Woods. I was feeling amazing and getting healthy. My love for these parks and the natural world that they showed me was cemented for life. They had quiet literally saved my life.
Now, an avid hiker and volunteer naturalist with our Metro Parks, I wanted to give something back to the parks that have given so much to me. I joined the Friends of Metro Parks with the goal to ensure that our parks are around for generations to come and will always be a place for all Ohioans to explore.
Our organization as grown from a dozen members to almost 1,000 individuals in just over a year. And now we have an opportunity to go to the next level and engage the 10 million annual visitors that visit our parks every year. We are re-launching the Friends of Metro Parks with the goal of having 30,000 members by the end of 2019 and to be the strongest advocates for the parks that we all love.
To that end, we will be working to make a significant number of changes to better engage you, your friends, and Metro Parks lovers across the region. Starting off with the adoption of a new strategic action plan* at our first public board meeting, we will be kicking things off this June in a big way.
I really look forward to meeting all of you and growing our ranks of Metro Parks friends over the coming year. I hope to see some of you at our board meeting in June or out on the trails in one of our amazing parks.
Keep on hiking!
Aryeh Alex, President
Friends of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks