Daytonian of the Week: Douglas May

Time among seeds helped Douglas May come out of his shell and find his voice.

The 19-year-old long-time Five Rivers MetroParks volunteer recently turned part-time employee — the latest Daytonian of the Week — is now the go-to guy at Adventure Central at Wesleyan MetroPark. 

>>MORE: Meet our Daytonians of the Week 

“He is here every day asking what needs to be done,” said Nate Arnett, Adventure Central’s director. “He doesn't do it because he wants recognition or attention. He does it because it needs to be done.” 

On MetroPark’s nomination, the culinary arts student at Ponitz Career Technology Center was selected to receive the Award of Excellence for Outstanding Youth Leadership from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association.

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Daytonian of the Week Douglas May and  Nate Arnett,  Adventure Central’s director.

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May, who is challenged with autism, said he found a place where it is easier to be different at Adventure Central, an after-school project from 4-H, Ohio State Extension, the University of Dayton and Five Rivers MetroParks.

Daytonian of the Week Douglas May at Adventure Central.

He is the first volunteer MetroPark’s has nominated for the award in seven years.

It will be awarded Feb. 14 during the 2016 OPRA Awards Dinner in Sandusky.

Last year, May celebrated his 750th hour of service to Adventure Central and MetroParks  in 2016. 

It included leading a group of peers in the propagation of 3,000 native trees and shrubs.

>> MORE: How lights once used to grow marijuana are teaching kids to love nature

An avid baker — his Lemon Champagne Celebration Cupcake (lemon-lime soda replaced the champagne) won a school cupcake contest last year — May says he loves the animals at Adventure Central and his work to help MetroParks’ reforestation efforts.

The trees and shrubs he tends to over the last three years are planted in Wesleyan MetroPark and the Great Miami Mitigation Bank.

He also helps in the center’s kitchen.

Daytonian of the Week Douglas May and his mother Marqueitta Captain

His mother, Marqueitta Captain, a Five Rivers MetroParks volunteer since 2007, said Adventure Central helped her son come into his own because staff members included him. 

He started with the program at age 9, but didn’t talk much until he was about 11.

“He started talking and now he won't stay quiet,” Captain joked. 

She said Douglas eventually did not need therapy thanks to his time at Adventure Central. 

“He looks at this as his second family,” she said. “I can't ask for a better place for him to come.”

Arnett said May — a lover of comedic books, Greek mythology and science fiction — always comes in with new ideas. 

“He does take on the role in our program of being the go-to guy,” Arnett said. “Not only is he willing to help out, but he has the knowledge and experience.”

>> MORE: Local parks first in Ohio to be mapped for Google Maps

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