TWINSBURG – A longtime fixture in the city’s parks will soon retire.

Stanley Stine, who has served as Twinsburg’s go-to guy for environmental and nature education since 1999, said he will retire at the end of May.

This does not mean he plans to retire from his love of nature.

"I plan to continue following my passion; probably placing an emphasis on botany of native plants and perhaps writing a book, if time allows," Stine said.

Stine’s nearly 40-year career in parks started in 1982, when he worked for the Park District of Dayton-Montgomery County as a field botanist. He started as a volunteer in 1980, leading hikes, helping with various activities and writing the volunteer newsletter. In 1981, he volunteered with the park district as a as Field Surveyor for a raptor nesting survey. Other places Stine has worked include Quail Hollow State Park, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, The Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

His path to Twinsburg started when city’s parks and recreation director at the time wanted a naturalist to evaluate Center Valley Park and lead nature hikes, Stine said.

"That park had recently opened with the bike path being its primary feature but there was more to be experienced in the preserved land, via walking trails in the wooded areas," Stine said. "My first duty was to create these trails."

Stine said he enjoyed working with people of all ages, and could only think of one irritation in his line of work.

"Long periods or rain were annoying," he said.

His father introduced him to his love and appreciation for nature, Stine said.

"Early on, my father shared his love of trees and built a house among some very diverse species of mature trees," Stine said. "I consider other naturalists an extended part of my family, though there is a granddaughter who is showing great promise now."

For those who want to pursue a career as a naturalist, Stine said he saw the career as "a life’s desire."

"Personal education never stops," he said. "Be prepared for the unexpected challenges and work for people and nature as one."

Kathryn Powers, superintendent of the Twinsburg City Schools, said that Community Focus, the local cable television station, are planning a special video tribute honoring Stine.

"His greatest pleasure was working with our Tigers and we feel that he would especially appreciate some remembrances from them," Powers said. "Mr. Stine will surely be missed."

Ideas students could use include pictures of students holding up signs for Stine, of students with homemade amphibians created at a past Salamander and Frog Fest when students were young, or a short video thanking him, Powers said. If a student wishes to make a video, they should keep it to less than 7 seconds and turn the phone sideways so the aspect ratio is 16x9. Best format is .mp4 at a 720p resolution. Send photos and videos to dennis@mycommunityfocus.org by May 20.

Derek Schroeder, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, called Stine "a hard worker and never shied away from a freezing cold and rainy hike."

"As someone with a Masters in Ecology, it was always nice to have Stanley to talk to about ‘science’ stuff," Schroeder said. "He is a wealth of knowledge about Twinsburg and Ohio Natural resources. Many students will certainly remember Stan Stan the Nature man. He loved answering the community’s questions and has been instrumental in the creation of miles and miles of hiking trails. There is not one parcel of open land in the city of Twinsburg without a piece of Stanley in it. He will certainly be missed, but I wish him the best during his deserved retirement."

The city has no plans to hire another naturalist, Schroeder said.

Laura Leonard, the director of the Twinsburg Public Library, said that Stine was "instrumental in advising the Garden Club and Twinsburg Public Library Foundation" on creating the Native Plant Garden and "overseeing the addition of its fence by Eagle Scout Peter Weiss in 2017."

"Stanley had a dedicated following of citizens who are as passionate about nature as he is," Leonard said. "Since September 2018, Stanley presented Nature Matters, a monthly program in which he highlighted Twinsburg’s nature trails and habitats and shared photos and stories he had amassed over his long career as a naturalist and botanist. He also invited guest speakers to present on a variety of topics ranging from the importance of growing native plants, the wonder of coyotes in Summit County, how to become an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist, and identifying wild mushrooms that grow in our region."

Stine said that "this chapter of my life was about the right person, right time, right place."

"A number of previous experiences brought me to Twinsburg, where I couldn’t have dreamed of a better career as a naturalist," he said.

April Helms can be reached at ahelms@recordpub.com.