One of the things I love most about the Pearl S. Buck House is that, impressive as it is, it doesn’t feel like a museum. It is a home: warm and welcoming. It brings to life the story of a talented, energetic, woman who saw injustice and didn’t turn away. Instead, she used her talent and energy to break through barriers and nurture understanding. I have always admired Ms. Buck, both as a writer and a humanitarian, but being in her home, seeing the objects that were part of her life, I see her as a human being.
The facilities at Rexroth Park were perfect for our organization’s needs. Volunteer non-profits like us depend on fundraising to maintain our programs at a minimal cost to participants. Rexroth not only supplies great fields for the kids, but also has a concession stand and pavilion that provides a source of income to help support our efforts. In addition, there is a youth-oriented playground, to the delight of our parents, which allows younger brothers and sisters to have some fun during practices in a safe environment.
Last summer our team hosted a class in Hoopes Park for the public and enjoyed some brunch items afterwards, which allowed everyone to spend time enjoying the park and getting to know each other. There are plenty of trees to cool us down and provide some much-needed shade on a humid summer day. We’ve seen that people really look forward to the chance to get out of their offices or homes and into a park for some fresh air and to be a little closer to nature, whether it be for yoga, running, biking, or other activities.
What happens when people neglect what they’ve built? At Housenick Park, people can watch it happen. The majesty of the seasons, combined with the impermanence of building materials, offers a four-season show with free admission. It’s my secret pleasure, a jewel of almost one hundred acres only five miles north of my home. Once the estate of Archibald Johnston, the city of Bethlehem’s first mayor, it’s now a public park in the heart of the Lehigh Valley.
This 111-acre park has three baseball fields, which provide ample space for egg hunts for toddlers through fourth graders. In addition, we are able to use the football fields for crafts, family-friendly games, face painting, and more. The park provides a lush and scenic background for photos with the Easter Bunny as well. Afterwards, kids enjoy time on the large playground that is suitable for small and big kids alike.
When our students leave Antietam Lake Park at the end of a day of service, they are tired, dirty, and newly inspired. They understand that places like Antietam can show to generation after generation the value of the natural world. Parks can help connect people to the natural spaces around them, and hopefully instill in people an understanding of the need for all of us to be better stewards of the planet we live on.
The Keystone Fund has helped the township fund the purchase of the property, create the master plan for the park, and make improvements in the first phase of construction. These improvements included the aforementioned soccer fields, two pavilions, and one of the walking trails, as well as electric service, public water service, and irrigation lines for the fields.
I was born and raised in Lebanon County, just a few blocks away from the current Lebanon Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). I can remember walking along these tracks as a kid when the trains were still running and iron ore was being shipped to the various operations throughout America. In 1972, the trains stopped running due to flooded iron mines after Hurricane Agnes. Then in 1999 Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails began to develop the land into what is now the LVRT. When I finally decided to retire, I felt a need to try to give something back to the community, and helping on the trail seemed to fit what I was looking for.
Along with an estimated 1.1 million annual visitors, I have personally walked, jogged, bicycled, fished, cross-country skied, kayaked, and climbed cliffs in the park. Best of all, I currently help plan and execute large and small infrastructure and maintenance projects. On a lovely day any visitor will encounter people of all ages and backgrounds reveling in the opportunity to be outdoors away from the noise, press, heat, or cold wind of the concrete, asphalt, and steel metropolis.
The adult hawks remained at Hildacy throughout the year. Many red-shouldered hawks migrate south in the fall, but apparently this pair was able to continue to find enough food to sustain them through the cold months. When spring arrived, the pair constructed a new nest less than a hundred yards from the Natural Lands Trust office building. During the construction of the nest, both birds were often seen and heard flying over the office and defending their territory.
But the true wonder of the new Big Woods Trail is its accessibility. Designed to expand recreational activities to more people, this trail is hard-paved at a 5% slope. Unlike the rocky and muddy trails throughout the area, this trail is wheel-friendly and opens up hikes to wheelchairs, strollers, and other tools of limited mobility. As an educator, this enables me to bring more people out into the field for interpretive walks and lessons, which thrills me.
During a particularly exciting bird walk along the creek with community residents on May 10, 2014 I was amazed by the sheer numbers of migrating songbirds that we were finding– from Worm-eating, Blue-winged, and Bay-breasted Warblers to Gray-cheeked Thrushes and a White-eyed Vireo–when up popped a Red-headed Woodpecker. Our excitement nearly tripled as we got to see this beautiful but rare bird for an extended period of time.
The Yardley Farmers’ Market, started by community volunteers, is held in Buttonwood Park every Saturday morning from 9 AM to 1 PM from May to October. 2017 will be our third year. Families and neighbors come together to shop for local food, enjoy the daily entertainment, and meet up with other friends and family. It’s the perfect location for the market, and the market could not exist without it.
As a trail user, I enjoy walking and biking the trail, alone or with my wife. Much of the trail is shaded by large trees or passes by open meadows, providing a scenic backdrop for our outings. Bluebird boxes have been placed along the trail, wildflowers attract a variety of native birds and bees, and deer and other wildlife can often be seen from the pathway. A local blogger recently posted a photo of a red fox happily trotting down the trail; apparently humans are not the only CVT enthusiasts! I find the trail to be an easy way to get an hour or two of exercise and fresh air, and I often come across friends and neighbors doing the same thing.
As the southern trailhead, Columbia Borough has benefitted from the construction of Columbia Crossing at Columbia River Park. This facility provides restrooms, information, interpretive displays, and indoor/outdoor event space that can be rented by community members. Columbia Borough, which owns the facility, has entered into an agreement with the Susquehanna Heritage Area for management of the facility. This facility has seen monthly visitors in excess of 3,500 in both June and July. As a volunteer at Columbia Crossing, I have met with visitors from Lancaster and surrounding counties who were drawn to the area by Columbia Crossing and the River Trail.
The past four years working as a Nature Preschool teacher have been incredibly eye-opening. The benefits of getting kids outside unfold right before my eyes. I’ve learned that the best type of learning happens organically. It is meaningful, relevant, and exciting. True learning happens when you discover answers to your questions first hand. At Nature Preschool we work to do just that. We use the trails, ponds, streams, leaves, and every little crevice under a log to learn.
I first discovered the trail thanks to neighborhood friends; it was a place where we would walk our dogs. In those early days (1990s) I had a Yellow Lab, named Bart who enjoyed several swimming holes along Conewago Creek. At first my friends and I would only hike about two miles of the trail and never ventured past Rt. 743. As time went on Bart and I hiked past Rt. 743 and up to Belair Road for an eight-mile round trip.
The Heritage Rail Trail has become the go-to facility for planning and staging a successful event. Through these successes, many non-profit agencies gain public recognition and are financially sustained. The Rail Trail Authority is proud to be the developer of the Heritage Rail Trail and grateful to the York community for embracing the Heritage Rail Trail and its newest event, the Pumpkin Walk.
The benefits and opportunities that our Climbers Run visits provided to Horizons students cannot be overstated. No amount of reading, video-watching, or even walking around the school could recreate the experiences that our students have had there. In addition to the invaluable hands-on science education they received, they also learned to take healthy risks, to persevere, to work together, and to ask questions. Best of all, they learned to respect and to enjoy nature.
Besides addressing the demand for this type of action sport facility and promoting programs to support the changing recreation trends in the 21st century, the Skateplaza has evolved into a place where social skills are learned. Cultural and socioeconomic barriers disappear and users communicate face to face instead of through text or email. Age does not matter, and the more experienced help the less experienced.