Sullivan Education Woods Monthly Walks
After the Sullivan family donated the 14-acre forest to the town of Middletown Springs, the town's conservation commission were appointed stewards of the property and created a loop trail and signage. One of the largest projects pursued by the group was a series of walks that took place each month for about six years. Open to all, this family-friendly series offered citizens the opportunity to engage in monthly-guided walks of the forest. Additionally, the series included activities like storytelling, seasonal events, and an annual camp-out.
Keeping in mind that the Middletown Springs Conservation Commission puts a strong focus on conservation (and the forest is named the 'Sullivan Education Woods'), this initiative allowed the commission members to successfully teach residents about the natural environment in a relevant setting. The project aimed to inform the community while painting a positive picture of conservation.
Sometimes the focus of the talks was teaching, whereas other talks were less structured and worked on fostering discovery and exploration.
When the project first started, it was advertised through school notices, the town newsletter, and signage at the general store and post office Descriptions of the walks were also publicized in the town news, promoting not only the events, but also the forest in general. Rain or shine, the walks always saw attendees, many of which frequented the events on a regular bases.
water, wetland, wildlife
This programming succeeded in getting local citizens of all ages interested in the area's natural history and landscape. In addition to actively providing information to attendees, the publications in the local news reporting the events allowed for further engagement of community members. Because the forest was donated to the town in the Sullivan family's name for use of education, this informative series fulfilled the goal of the donors.
Middletown Springs Conservation Commission
In order to keep the events going, multiple people were directly involved and committed to the project. Moreover, consistently holding the event (despite low numbers of attendees or inclement weather) allowed for it to become a staple activity in the community; momentum was important to keeping it going. Because the goals of many commission members (as a group, and as individuals) coincided with the programs' goals, there was incentive to keep it going.
The number of attendees varied from month to month. Additionally, it was difficult to keep the program running once children and families grew older. Finding folks who could put in the time and effort necessary to run the program long-term was another challenge.