Rotary EarlyAct Club donates Lake Gregory educational nature trail

Nov 7, 2019 | Crestline

Staff Writer

The Valley of Enchantment EarlyAct Club spent Saturday, Oct. 19 installing and donating to the community an educational nature trail along the edge of the fitness trail around Lake Gregory. It was designed to inform and educate locals and visitors about the local plants and animals in the area.

By sharing this information about nature, the students hope everyone will learn to respect the local environment and how to interact appropriately with it. One theme is to “Leave No Trace” while visiting and enjoying nature.

The club installed six educational trail podiums that have laminated pictures of students’ work attached, which will be changed out every six weeks. The information is being created under the school’s science, writing and art curriculum, with hand-drawn illustrations and informational paragraphs written by the students from facts they have learned in school.

The trail was paid for by funds raised last school year by the students through various fundraising projects. Each of the podiums was constructed by last year’s fifth-grade EarlyAct students, who returned to install them in cement bases along the edge of the trail, along with current students, under the supervison of Rotarians Gaston Maya and Bill Mellinger, who are grade-level club sponsors. Teacher Mark Warhol, who was a previous EarlyAct teacher advisor, came to mix some of the cement.

The trail begins at the Lake Gregory dog park near the east end of the lake’s South Shore parking lot. The tree slab sign at the entrance to the trail was made by VOE teacher Stephanie Plemons’ son, Chad. The podiums are placed along the edge of the trail going eastward toward the San Moritz Lodge so they do not interfere with the use of the trail. Each podium has clips for the students’ work from all grade levels at VOE Elementary.

The students of the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade EarlyAct clubs like to help the community; they work under the Rotary motto of “Service above self.” The third-graders’ focus is on the school itself, and last year they bought tether balls for the school from their fundraising.

The fourth-graders have an international focus, so they purchased Hope in a Box shelter boxes as part of their Peanut Butter project. The shelter boxes are used after a disaster and contain a tent and necessary items for a family of six to survive out of the elements. Four boxes were sent to the Bahamas last year after the hurricane.

The fifth-graders’ focus is on community service, making quilts, and they are thrilled to have completed their project with the installation and donation of this informational nature trail to the Crestline community. They also made homeless kits for St. Frances Cabrini Church, kits for the dog shelter, and participated in the skate park and Lake Gregory clean-up.

One of the fundraising activities the students did to support these projects was selling healthy duck food. Last year, they raised $5,000 for their projects though several activities.

The VOE EarlyAct club will also be supporting the free Thanksgiving Feast at the San Moritz Lodge on November 28 from noon to 4 p.m. by creating the decorations and helping to serve the meals.

Each grade of the Early Act Club has both a Rotarian sponsor and a teacher advisor. Bill Mellinger was pleased with the look of the nature trail installation, which was a surprise gift to the community. He hopes the community, which regularly uses the trail, enjoys the students’ efforts and he looks forward to the new information every six weeks.


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