I.C. STEM students become trailblazers making nature path on school grounds

CLEARING THE WAY — STEM students at Indian Creek Middle School are literally carving a path with the development of a nature trail on the school grounds. The nearly mile-long trail includes views of woodlands, water and wildlife and should be completed next year. Clearing the way are seventh-graders, from left, Marek Speece, Noah Forrester, Kolton Norris, Bryson Kamarec, Logan Gosbin, Gavin Pownall, Caiden Canestraro, George Zadanski, Corey Garlitz, Luke Belisle, Wyatt Doan, Gabriel Andreozzi, Alivia Marcum, Delaney Bates-Dallman, Jalissa Purr and Gabriella Taylor. -- Contributed

MINGO JUNCTION — STEM students at Indian Creek Middle School could be considered trailblazers for their work to develop a nature path on the school grounds.

Teacher Austin Cable said the trail, which stretches for more than a mile, has been in the works for two years, and seventh- and eighth-graders have been clearing the way to make it a reality.

Using tools funded through a Best Practice grant from the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, Cable said classes have spent time creating the recreational spot with plans to identify wildlife and vegetation for public and educational use.

“About 100 or more students are involved in the school project (throughout the year,) “ he said. “We’re trying to get kids outside, and this gives them a purpose.”

Students get out of the classroom and into fresh air, plus they learn about tool safety and construction as well as seven “Leave-No-Trace” principles describing the ethics of protecting the natural environment. Classes of roughly 20 to 27 youth have worked each nine weeks to complete more of the dirt path, which forms a loop in a wooded area on the estimated 156-acre property. The formerly strip-mined area includes a pond and hills as part of the scenery.

“It is about two-thirds of the way finished, and it’s been good for the kids. They work for 25 minutes outside,” Cable added. “Ultimately it can be used for the school for a nature trail or by the community for mountain biking or even the cross country team for practice.”

The project is being done in connection with the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District. The hope is to complete the path next year.


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