It’s the season of thanksgiving, and here at Sheridan we have much to be thankful for. Large spaces, fields teeming with wildlife, clean water, enough people that we could enjoy all the amenities of the city, but not so many people that you couldn’t find a space for you all alone, and of course those magnificent mountain views.
All of this – and much more – includes our beautiful Bighorns backyard. It’s a very special place to call home. And it’s a house made more beautiful thanks to very special people – volunteers.
At the Sheridan Community Land Trust, these volunteers are especially special. Since July 1, 2020, more than 370 kind and caring people have generously shared more than 1,800 hours of their time to keep the trails in perfect condition; teach new skills or share new stories as leaders of the discovery session and presenters of the Explore History program; and assist at events and chart the course for the right SCLT ship by serving on our board of directors and committees.
We are grateful for their work, because without their work we could not do ours. And we hope that by giving back to their community, people can earn a lot more. For students at John C. Schiffer Collaborative School and Big Horn Middle School, their volunteer time on the trails this spring showed them a new way to enjoy and explore the outdoors near home.
“We know that if you work and play together, you build stronger relationships and achieve better results,” said David Peterson, professor of social studies at the John C. Schiffer Collaborative School.
It’s a reflection that extended beyond the work of Schiffer’s students who spent a beautiful day in May working on the new Green Room Trail at Malcolm Wallop Park, doing basic maintenance at Hidden Hoot. Trail and learn about local history while taking the Big Goose Creek walking tour. .
Peterson said educating students outside of the classroom is a “guideline of conduct” at Schiffer. “Our children rarely have the opportunity to connect with the community and with nature,” he said, adding, “So working with SCLT is a natural fit.”
After a year of not working with community groups, students and staff were eager to spend a day outside.
“It was a lot better. The fresh air and constant movement is great for the body,” said Avery Schroth, who spent much of the morning wiping the brush.
“I think we are helping the community a lot. It’s a good experience, ”concluded Sada Messick.
Schiffer’s students weren’t the only ones giving back by helping SCLT this spring. The Big Horn middle school students returned to Red Grade Trails as part of a school-wide day of service in late May.
On this day of service, Big Horn students completed 21 projects and combined to share 600 hours with their community, whether on the trail or at a neighbor’s in need of help.
“Through the Day of Community Service, our students are able to see parts of our community that they might not otherwise be able to see,” explained instructor Susie Mohrmann.
This includes Red Grade Trails, where Morhmann started bringing young rams at least six years ago.
“The trails are accessible, although not all students have experienced the trails,” she noted.
About half of this year’s crew had never been on the slopes before. After an afternoon in the forest, many said they were eager to come back.
“It’s fun to be in nature! “” We love the fresh air and the trees! “We have fun with our friends!” “It’s so peaceful here!
These are all comments that came quickly from the group.
“It was really fun,” concluded Lilyahna Hancock, a grade 8 student who made her first visit to Red Grade Trails. After raking and smoothing the tread, she said she couldn’t wait to get back. “I want to hike the trails! “
While each Big Horn high school student had their own reason for helping Red Grade Trails, their reasons all had a similar theme, perhaps best explained by 8th grade student Ava Byrd. “I feel grateful because it’s a healthy environment and a beautiful place to be.”
We couldn’t agree more! SCLT is grateful to everyone who was able to spend time in our beautiful Bighorns backyard with us. We hope to continue to connect more people to their community and to nature over the coming year. Happy Thanksgiving.
Chris Vrba is Director of Marketing and Development for Sheridan Community Land Trust.