Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award
A Walk in the Park
I was highly honored as one of four state winners of the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award. My project is entitled “A Walk in the Park” and was the development of 29 interpretive trail signs plus informational booklets and audio trail guides for the Bobwhite State Park Nature Trail. This was a large community service project involving 8 months, the writing and receiving of a $1000 grant, working with several hundred people from community clubs and agencies, and a high degree of technological inventiveness, plus computer and map-making skills.
I have always wanted to do something to make a difference in my community and with this project; I found a way to do just that. Twenty-five years ago, Lorena Blount and the state park service set out to place informational signs on the Bobwhite State Park trail. They succeeded, but 25 years ago the technology to do this was expensive and didn’t last very long. The first signs that the group placed in the park were coated with a paint that squirrels and chipmunks LOVED and a few months later they came back to the trail to discover that their signs had actually been eaten. And here as you can see, even with different paint, four by four posts won’t last very long out in Iowa’s harsh weather. Some of the original 19 signs are still there but all of them are rotted and some are completely gone. The trail originally had tri-fold pamphlets that had information on each of the locations of the signs. The park also had to discontinue these because of their cost of production.
I was inspired to do this project partly because of my love of nature and desire to help preserve the environment. But the day I got the idea for this project came after Lorena Blount took my T.A.G. class on a nature hike on the Bobwhite trail. She knew so much about almost everything on that trail and I learned so much from her. So I decided that my project would be to preserve her words so everyone would be able to enjoy what she had to teach.
While working with this project I met with over a hundred people from all walks of life individually and in groups. One of them was Park Ranger, Scott Ingram. I had several meetings with him about the signs in which he shared a funny story about how his assistant’s sister got lost on the trail for over two hours. This was my inspiration for creating the maps on the trail and in the book. I started out by writing several grants and going around to a few of the organizations in Corydon. None of the grants I applied for were accepted except for the Wayne Community Foundation grant which brought over a thousand dollars into the Walk in the Park project. During the summer I met with several of the organizations in Corydon such as the Lions Club, Wayco Arts Council, Welcome we Help, and the Optimist club. While presenting my project to those organizations, I became more comfortable with speaking to large groups. During the summer, there were several times that I set up this display about my project and by several donations I got the rest of my funding.
In doing this project I gained several new skills such as collaboration, cooperation, and leadership in presenting to large and small groups in the community. I feel as if my project is a project where people really wanted to get up and help. Almost every day people were encouraging me or offering to help with something.
With A Walk in the Park, I have lived up to my dream because not only have I learned much about nature, but now others will also be able to learn about Iowa’s dwindling native prairie in a fun and engaging way.