EPN Meeting - July 13, 2021, Greening Engagement: Parks and Community Partnerships

Jul 13, 2021, 10:00am - 12:15pm
Zoom Meeting
Cecil Okotah

Park trail with bench and pond in background. Workforce Development, Green Jobs, Local Partnerships, and Professional Development icons.


Program Overview

The mission of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks is to conserve open spaces, while providing places and opportunities that encourage people to discover and experience nature. Metro Parks features 19 outstanding natural area parks with more than 230 miles of trails and over 27,700 acres of land in seven Central Ohio counties. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Central Ohio residents have had to stay closer to home, but this has also created a new opportunity for residents to explore more of their neighborhood parks and find joy and excitement in their own backyards. 

Toward the end of last year, Joshua Simon accepted a new position as Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator for Metro Parks. At the start of his role, Joshua has been reaching out to community-based organizations big and small to build community and connect diverse groups with nature within Metro Parks. Through building new relationships and strengthening existing ones, Joshua seeks to organize community events, increase nature programming activities, explore and develop nature-based career pathways, and offer other activities that build racial equity, diversity and inclusion in Central Ohio.  

Join Joshua Simon for a conversation on his progress working with youth and recently developed partnerships to increase community engagement opportunities. 


9:55 a.m. Waiting room opens.

10:00 a.m. Nicole Jackson, Next Generation Advisory Council member, National Parks Conservation Association provides welcome remarks.

10:05 a.m. Joshua Simon, MS, coordinator, Diversity, and Inclusion, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks presents Greening Engagement: Parks and Community Partnerships.

10:55 a.m. Audience Q & A with Joshua Simon facilitated by Nicole Jackson. 

11:05 a.m. Concluding remarks and ten-minute break.

11:15 a.m. Facilitated, smaller-group networking meeting with Environmental Professionals Network, Environment and Natural Resources Career Services, and Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks staff.

12:10 p.m. Concluding remarks by Nicole Jackson.


Headshot of speaker Joshua Simon in a black suit, gray tie, and white shirt.

Joshua Simon coordinator, Diversity and Inclusion, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

Joshua J. Simon is currently the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator for the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks (Metro Parks). Joshua is a native of Morganza, Louisiana and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in Urban Forestry and Natural Resources. Joshua recently received his Master of Science degree from The Ohio State University in the School of Environment and Natural Resources specializing in Environmental Social Science with a minor in Public Policy and Management. He chose to pursue his Master’s degree at The Ohio State University because it was a chance to integrate his undergraduate degree and love for trees and the environment with his eagerness for studying and combatting environmental racism.

His graduate research focused on urban greenspace and access patterns by minorities in Columbus from an environmental justice lens, in an effort to determine if urban greenspace access is influenced by social and economic class. At Metro Parks Joshua focuses on networking with under-represented, marginalized, minority, and underserved communities in the Columbus area to share information on Metro Parks and hiring opportunities as they arise.


We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Cecil Okotah (okotah.1@osu.edu). Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs.

This program will be recorded, edited, and posted to the EPN YouTube page by July 20, 2021.