By Laura Swanson
Trails Day for Nestucca Junior Senior High School students on May 29th at Camp Meriwether brought together Tillamook County Wellness partners to launch community engagement with a focus on youth and trails. Throughout the sunny, warm day, over 150 students from grades 7th through 12th, along with additional staff and volunteers, engaged in a variety of activities that showcased Camp Meriwether’s natural attributes, combined with lessons in trail building and stewardship, topped off with an Olympic medalist BMX riding demo. “Watching the kids (and adults) experience the outdoors. This was a great partnership of stewards of the land and it was fun for me to see these partnerships growing closer,” said one participant, when asked what they enjoyed most about the experience.
Trails Day was made possible by the collaborative efforts of Tillamook County Wellness Access to Physical Activity committee, participation by Nestucca Valley School District , and these key partners: US Forest Service, Trailkeepers of Oregon, Tillamook Off-Road Trails Association (TORTA), Tillamook County Creamery Assoc., Camp Meriwether/Boys Scouts of America Cascade Pacific Council, Oregon Dairy & Nutrition Council and OSU Extension/SNAP Ed.
Students arrived at 9 am for the day-long event, rotating through six interactive learning stations that included trail building demonstrations, a wellness hike, mountain biking and pump track demo and a healthy lunch.
The US Forest Service, Trailkeepers of Oregon and TORTA provided the expertise at each station, including:
1- Hydrology: The wonders of water
2 – Wildlife
3 – Logout: demonstrate how rigging and crosscut saws are used to clear logs from trails
4 – Trail basics: teach trail terms and how to clear vegetation and maintain the trail surface safely
5 – Walk for wellness to a cool new trail bridge. USFS botanist hiked with the group to talk plants and trees along the trail.
6 – TORTA hosted a mountain bike demonstration on a pumptrack and skills park performed by Jill Kintner, former professional Bicycle Motocross (BMX) and downhill mountain biker and current Professional Enduro racer
Students were especially impressed with Kintner, who won a bronze medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Women’s BMX, holds three consecutive UCI 4X World titles, Downhill World Cup podiums, five Crankworx World titles, and an outstanding 20 USA National Championships across five disciplines. According to a participant, “Jill is a talented athlete, modest person, but most of all loves riding bikes! Her list of skills and accomplishments give her the perfect combination for inspiring people on two wheels. During Jill’s pumptrack and skills park demo, she not only shared info about what it is and how to use it, but continually reinforced they are a community that welcomes all riders at every level, the culture is inclusive and a place for supportive camaraderie and skill building.” The pumptrack and skills park are now among the abundant camp amenities enjoyed by Scouts and other groups using Camp Meriwether.
Tillamook County Wellness Access to Healthy Food partners teamed up to provide healthy snacks and beverages for participants. OSU Extension’s Food Hero, Oregon Dairy & Nutrition Council and Tillamook County Creamery Association supplied “Popeye” green spinach smoothies – with a “people-powered” bike blender and make-your-own trail mix to keep everyone powered up. The US Forest Service had Smokey the Bear on hand for “hellos” and hugs!
“Trails Day” was created by a grassroots collaboration of community members who are part of Tillamook County Wellness and whose work is geared toward a common goal of decreasing the percentage of people at risk for Type 2 Diabetes by 2027. There are five Wellness action committees – Access to Physical Activity, Health Promotion, Workplace Wellness, Access to Healthy Foods, and Health Screening – all working together to help Tillamook County be a happier and healthier place to live, work, play and learn.
The Access to Physical Activity committee “Trails Day” was a result of these focused efforts, with the goals to:
• Engage Community Youth
• Create Stewardship Education
• Encourage Outdoor Recreation
• Build Interest in Local Trails
• Embrace Outdoor Work Opportunities
• Learn Trail Maintenance Skills
• Provide Opportunities for All
Trails Day was deemed a great success by all who participated, provided the opportunity to get 200 people physically active in our natural coastal outdoor environment, and experience the fun of wellness.
For more information about this event or how you can get involved in building and maintaining local trails visit trailkeepersoforegon.org or find TORTA on Facebook at Tillamook Off-Road Trails Alliance. Visit tillamookcountyhealthmatters.org and follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook for more local health and wellness news.