Published March 25, 2024

Women’s History Month – Meet the Women of Five Rivers MetroParks 

In honor of Women’s History Month, we profile some of Five Rivers MetroParks’ female employees who keep your parks beautiful, safe and open year-round. 


Amy Kennedy has worked for MetroParks for almost 10 years, currently as lead horticulture technician at RiverScape MetroPark. Her job is to train all new horticulture staff and take care of the plant materials at RiverScape.  

“My favorite part of working with Five Rivers is the fact that I get to watch things come to life,” said Kennedy. “The plants and the flowers are just part of it, watching the parks in the morning as people walk through is so much fun!” 

Kennedy’s favorite MetroParks hidden gem is Deeds MetroPark.  

“It’s so beautiful there,” she said. “I love when the Five Rivers MetroParks Fountain of Lights goes off and the beauty of it all just comes together.” 

Her advice to any young woman wanting to work in the parks and recreation industry is to not be afraid of getting dirty.  

“Playing in the dirt and watching your hard work bloom is so satisfying and gives you a feeling of accomplishment,” said Kennedy. “Don’t doubt yourself. Believe that what you planted will be beautiful.” 

Kennedy also loves finding the beauty in her day-to-day life. 

“Five Rivers MetroParks is a beautiful place to work,” Kennedy said. “From the people to the parks you will find something beautiful.” 

Megan Rude, MetroParks’ conservation coordinator for the north region, started in 2019 as an intern. She became a part time employee later that year and was promoted to full time in 2022. Her job is to coordinate with park managers, conservation staff and volunteers to plan and conduct habitat management and conservation projects. She also provides staff and volunteer trainings and logistical support, and she works in the field carrying out conservation restoration work. 

“There are so many strong women who help lead this agency, and I’m grateful to work for and alongside them,” Rude said.  

She has been going to MetroParks since she was a kid and has many fond memories.  

“Having the ability to work here and provide awesome natural parks for others to visit and be inspired by is one of my favorite things about this job,” Rude said. “It’s also awesome to see the impact our work can have on the local wildlife populations. Finding rare species like Indiana bats in our parks is one of the most rewarding things because it shows how important the conservation management work we do is.” 

Her favorite is Germantown MetroPark.  

“Even though it’s our largest park, it’s almost a hidden gem because it’s remote and far outside of the city of Dayton.” Rude said. “Hiking through the old growth forest there is so magical, especially in the spring when the forest wildflowers start blooming.” 

Her advice for young women interested in working in the conservation industry is to be confident they are enough.  

“This field is challenging and physically demanding, but women are just as capable and can contribute just as much to conservation as men,” said Rude. “Don’t be afraid to speak up and take up space.” 

Lois Woods has been at Five Rivers MetroParks for almost 22 years. As an administrative assistant at Adventure Central, she’s in charge of various administrative duties, including working with all financials and assisting with overseeing the afterschool program. Woods’ favorite part of working here is that her work peers have become a second family.  

Adventure Central at Wesleyan MetroPark is her favorite. Adventure Central is the result of a partnership among Five Rivers MetroParks, The Ohio State University Extension and 4-H Youth Development. The center empowers youth in West Dayton to become healthier, happier and more successful through nature exploration, homework assistance and a wide variety of out-of-school educational programs that strengthen values, develop long-term positive relationships and build lasting life skills to create caring, capable and contributing citizens of tomorrow. 

Related  MetroParks Helps People of All Abilities Access Nature

“It is a hidden gem within the heart of the city,” Woods said.  

She advises women to be open to working in park districts because they offer great opportunities.  

Deanna Flaugher has been a MetroParks ranger for 18 years. Rangers patrol the parks 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays and when the parks are closed. Flaugher’s favorite part of working at MetroParks is the ability to be in the field everyday instead of in an office.  

Her favorite MetroPark is Carriage Hill.  

Flaugher’s advice for young women wanting to become a park ranger is to go to the police academy and have a desire to work in parks.  

Advantages of being a park ranger include serving multiple park locations instead of being limited to one municipality, spending time in beautiful parks, focusing more on proactive patrol rather than reacting to calls, participating in fun community events and festivals, patrolling on boats, ATVS and bikes, and being well-loved by the community.  

Nicole Freshour has worked for MetroParks for almost five years. She is currently the conservation coordinator for the south region. Her job includes a wide assortment of responsibilities that change throughout the year. Freshour regularly schedules time to work individually and/or coordinate group work on Annual Habitat Action Plan tasks for each park and conservation area.  

These plans include invasive species management, wildlife management and monitoring, grassland and forest management, and special projects. Individual tasks might include coordinating and training volunteer bluebird nest box monitors, participating in prescribed burns to maintain grasslands, deer trail camera surveys, honeysuckle removal, and planting shrubs, trees or other plants for restorations or species diversification. She has also spent the past few years collaborating with coworkers to improve MertroParks’ seed calculator, seed room and seed nursery at Germantown MetroPark. 

“The best thing about working here is the support I get from my team,” Freshour said. “This applies to on-the-job knowledge, but also emotional support and wellbeing.” 

One of Freshour’s favorite places to go is Sand Ridge Conservation Area.  

“It has a handful of unique and rare species of plants  I haven’t seen in any of our parks,” Freshour said. “I’ve really enjoyed working on restoring those five acres and hope to see positive results this year from recent invasive species removal.” 

Her advice for women wanting to work in conservation is to get lots of experience in a wide variety of areas, keep their minds open, and to listen, learn and question everything. 

“You may find you have interests in certain topics or a general interest in many things, but real passion may stem from unexpected sources,” Freshour said. “One of my specific passions stemmed from learning about the role of native plants for our wildlife and how beneficial they are in your yard, especially when many people have the same mindset of removing turf grass and replacing non-native plants with natives. Special interests tend to fall into place, and you learn where your strengths and weaknesses are as you learn more in each area.” 

Her final comment: “Snakes are cute.” 

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