Vanderbilt Area School Forest Trail Building Day


On August 19th over twenty-five Vanderbilt community members, Vanderbilt High School students, Huron Pines staff, AmeriCorps staff, and Otsego County Community Foundation staff and Youth Advisory Committee came together for a trail making work day to benefit the Huron Pines/ Vanderbilt Area School place-based stewardship education project. This idea started about a year and a half ago when Vanderbilt Area Schools approached Huron Pines looking for help in place- based education. “After discussions, it was agreed that the school forest was a natural fit for both Huron Pines and for the school system” noted Jennie Zoll, program manager with Huron Pines.

Thanks to M & M Excavating, the trail was configured and ready for the volunteers to grab shovels, wheelbarrows and rakes to remove debris, dig and haul materials to make the path easier to walk and to spread wood chips throughout the .4 miles.” Today’s goal is to finish up the trail for the students before the start of school’ said Emily Vogelgesang with Americorps.   When asked why he came to volunteer, Youth Advisory Committee member Josh Moody said “The OCCF Youth Fund funded this project and I wanted to see our investment through to the end.”

The purpose of the project is to implement place-based stewardship education (PBSE) efforts at Vanderbilt Area School (VAS). PBSE has been proven to increase student performance and results in long term investment in their community. The school will implement PBSE by providing opportunity for student led stewardship projects in the community and by increasing use of the 110-acre school forest. The school forest will be developed into an outdoor classroom for students and a recreation area for community members.  Using the school forest as a platform for PBSE efforts will provide opportunity for increased student involvement in the community and an engagement with the surrounding area’s natural resources. By making the school forest more accessible and usable, the community will see the benefits of increased recreational opportunity which leads to greater physical and mental health.

Vanderbilt High School Junior Noah Synder stated “Nature is cool! This project will be impactful to all students for years to come. Learning about our environment while literary walking and sitting in the environment will make education fun.”

This project was made possible in part by the Dr. Patrick J. McNamana Fund, the Community Fund and the  Youth Fund  of the Otsego County Community Foundations along with the United Way during the 2017 Community Grant Program.