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TREK TEN TRAILS Program is an outstanding concept in leading people outside to enjoy their natural surroundings and experience the healthy benefits of becoming a regular trail user.

arrow This project was nominated for a Partnership Award as part of the 2008 National Trails Awards, announced at the 19th National Trails Symposium in Little Rock, Arkansas.

 

Trek Ten Trails Program get kids and adults involved in outdoor activities


photo of young people at trailhead

Trek Ten Trails Program Crooked Lake Prairie

 

The Trek Ten Trails Program in Polk County, Florida, began as a simple hiking program meant to expose our local citizens to the numerous environmental lands purchased by the County, (taxpayers). These properties were purchased to preserve natural Florida green space and to prevent development.

Another goal of the Trek Ten Trails Program was to get our kids involved in outdoor activities and in the natural environment. The hiking program was developed by a volunteer group, Friends of the Parks Foundation.

Our committee members agreed that if we didn‘t try to get our younger generation outdoors to learn and have fun, they would never understand to appreciate the outdoor space, nor would they want to preserve and take care of our natural Florida.“

Visitors are encouraged to learn about the nattural areas. At Crooked Lake Prairie the brochure lists Things to See:

"Wildlife that may be observed include bald eagles, deer, gopher tortoises, Florida scrub jays and an array of wading and migratory birds. As you venture through the scrub and scrubby flatwoods, watch for evidence of wildlife including scat and tracks. Determining small differences in tracks will help you identify the animal that left them. For example, the absence of claw marks in the sand help distinguish a bobcat track from that of a dog or fox. Catching a glimpse of a bobacat is rare since they are nocturnal and secretive."

photo of kids in woods

Learning about geocaching

Another activity visitors are encouraged to learn about is geocaching: "This high-tech treasure hunting game pis layed throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people of all ages who have a strong sense of community and support for the environment."

Accomplishments of the Trek Ten volunteers:

• Identified ten great hiking trails,
• Developed a passport with maps to each trail, gps coordinates for geo-caches along with written directions to the geo-caches Created a logo for each trail,
• Had metal hiking stick meda lions made, Placed geocaches on each of the ten trails
• Held a huge kickoff event, with free snacks, many give away prizes (including hand held GPS‘s) and demonstrations (one of carving hiking sticks)
• Gave away, back packs, water, water bottles, other hiking goodies Gave away hundreds of hiking sticks
• Held guided hiking events about once a month for a year (not July, August due to temperatures)
• Sold meda lions for each trail hiked and stamped the passport for trail hiked.
• Holding a finale award celebration in September each year to give certificates, gifts and prizes to the successful participants.

The reasons this program is an outstanding trail sharing program is:

1. The Trek Ten Trail program leadership partnered with the Florida Trails Association. Their members guided many of the hikes and participated in the program.

2. The program leadership partnered with the Florida Geo-Caching Organization. Their members placed a l the geo-caches on the trails and participated in the hikes and program.

3. The Trek Ten Trails program partnered with the Visitors and Convention bureau, which produced a l the brochures, passports and artwork for the meda lions. The program won the County Sports Marketing Award.

4. The Trek Ten Trails Program won the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails Event of the Year for in October 2007.

5. The Trek Ten Trails Program partnered with leadership in the County Environmental Lands Program, who made sure the trails were in good shape for the hikes and a lowed the geo-caches to be placed on their properties.

6. The Trek Ten Trails Program had the participation of the Board of County Commissioners with some financial support.

For more information visit http://www.friendsoftheparks.net/2010TrekTen.html

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