Mountaineer Challenge to lend a helping hand on OWLS trail

GRAFTON—In an effort to ensure that all students and community members who would like to venture out in nature to expand their minds have a safe and accessible place to do so, the Planned Approach to Community Health (PATCH) Coalition will be holding a workday at a local outdoor educational arena.

The Outdoor Wildlife Learning Sites (OWLS) Trail at Anna Jarvis Elementary School serves as a place for youths to expand their minds, while getting outdoors in nature. It not only serves students at the school, but is a place for families to visit, to take a break in the fresh air and explore the flora and fauna of Taylor County.

To help ensure the OWLS Trail continues to be a great space, laborers from the Mountaineer Challenge Academy will be lending a hand to assist in leveling the ground and laying pavers beside the outdoor classroom this Sunday.

“There will be 10-20 cadets helping us on that day,” said PATCH President Alicia Lyons. “Fortunately, we don’t need any volunteers for this workday, due to the academy’s COVID restrictions on projects. However, we do need help with tools and supplies.” 

According to Lyons, the coalition is in need of items that will be helpful in the leveling of the ground and paver laying such as, shovels, garden rakes, hoes, mattocks, rubber mallets, tape measures, wheelbarrows and hand tampers.

“If you have some tools we can borrow, you can drop them off at the DHHR office or the Taylor County Family Resources office by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 10, so I can collect them,” Lyons said. 

In addition, the PATCH Coalition is in need of gravel and sand, as well as help delivering the items to the OWLS Trail site.

 The OWLS Trail features a defined walking path, benches for visitors to sit while they enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the area and various stations for the county’s youths to expand their minds, while exercising their bodies.

In addition to a lending library, a climbing wall, a balance beam, the classroom and art station, the trail boasts a sensory garden that Lyons hopes to expand with different options. 

In an effort to be inclusive of everyone, the trail offers ramps to the learning centers that are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

The OWLS Trail is a joint venture between Anna Jarvis Elementary, the PATCH Coalition and Taylor County Family Resources (TCFR).

TCFR Executive Director Cathy Coontz-Griffith shared the organization applied for and administered a mini grant, in conjunction with Try This West Virginia, for the project, that funded the renovation of the trail that began in July 2017.

Since that time, additional grants have been sought and awarded and local organizations and volunteers have worked to expand the trail to add more stations for the county’s youth to enjoy. 

Contributions and donations are always welcomed to help with the maintenance and expansion costs associated with the trail. 

To learn more, please contact Lyons by emailing [email protected].



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