Upper Valley teens build hiking trails - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Upper Valley teens build hiking trails

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For some high school students, summer is a time to hit the pool. But for a group in the Upper Valley, it's a time to give back to the community.

"I enjoy the outdoors and I had a couple free weeks and I wanted to do something constructive," said Erica Hinck, a student at Hanover High School.

"I kind of wanted to get off my butt and do something because I felt really lazy," said Olivia Smith, a student at Lebanon High School. "And it is just fun to meet new people."

"I wanted something that was going to keep me active and also be fun," said Emmaline Keene of Springfield, N.H. "We are not working all the time. We are also doing fun stuff in the afternoon."

The students, who go to several area schools, are taking part in Outdoor Odyssey. It's a brand new program created by the Upper Valley Trails Alliance in partnership with the National Parks Service designed to turn students into stewards of the land. Not only are they learning how to make a trail, but they are learning from one of the best in the business. John Taylor is the programs director for Upper Valley Trails Alliance. He is also the most recent recipient of the David Kingsbury Smith Award from the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council, a statewide honor that highlights his 30 years of experience in the woods.

"What I love to do is share my knowledge and share my passion for community and bring people from different walks of life together and enjoy the outdoors," Taylor said.

And the program is doing just that-- getting kids to take an active role in the world around them. They are maintaining and building nearly a dozen trails over the course of two weeks.

"We want to bring in more youth who are going to be able to pick up the slack as people age and no longer can help take care of the trails," Taylor said.

And Taylor is sharing his award-winning knowledge, like how to properly handle runoff from recent rains.

"If you divert it accordingly, then you can have a very functioning path that will last for a very long time," Hinck said.

And the list goes on.

"I have been learning a lot about nature and plant life," Smith said. "John knows a lot. He is always telling us about different kinds of plants and bird calls."

"Now, whenever I go hiking I will really appreciate how hard it is to build a trial because I've done it," Keene said.

This clean hiking trail behind the Montshire Museum is proof. A project for the whole community.

Organizers hope to turn the program into an annual event. Click here for more information.

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