Editorial: Monday Shorts: These trails are for everyone

  • New, accessible trails like this one in Athol open up the outdoors to almost everyone. Staff Photo/Zack Deluca

Published: 9/13/2020 4:02:54 PM

Here are some brief thoughts on recent happenings in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region.

These trails are for everyone

This is a great time of year to get out on a trail and now more people than ever before can enjoy nature, thanks to trails that are short, relatively flat and scenic — which sounds pretty good to all of us — plus, they’re wheelchair- and walker-friendly — that is to say, accessible. Recently, three newly cleared Flatlander Accessible Trails opened in Athol, thanks to a team of volunteers from the North Quabbin Trails Association. “The concept is to bring everybody out here onto these trails,” Bobby Curley, president of the Orange-based group, said. You can even reserve an all-terrain wheelchair (at nqtrail@gmail.com). Curley has also worked “thousands of hours” alongside park directors to expand access at the Winchendon Community Park, which boasts waterfront views, thick forest sections and fielded meadows.

Meanwhile, in Northfield, the Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey S. Ames accessible trail opened two years ago at the Alderbrook Meadows Sanctuary on Millers Falls Road (Route 63), complete with benches, interpretive signs and a deck overlooking a beaver pond. What these trails have in common — besides dedicated volunteers — is the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, which works with landowners to protect acres from development while allowing the general public to have reasonable access to the land. “I think it is going to have a big impact on a log of people,” Leigh Youngblood, executive director of Mount Grace said at the Ames Trail opening in Northfield.

Big shoes to fill

The name Sue Samoriski is practically synonymous with the Mary Lyon Foundation, a nonprofit that supports education in West County. Executive Director Samoriski, Ed.D.,is its founder and for 30 years has led volunteers in fundraising that has supported students and teachers with grants, scholarships and various kinds of assistance. The Mary Lyon Foundation has been the inspiration for education foundations in other parts of the county, and Samoriski has been generous in sharing her secrets of success. Last week, Samoriski announced she would be stepping down from her role as executive director, and now the search is on for her successor, with the hope of having someone in place by the end of January. Luckily, her successor will have Samoriski as a mentor through the 2020-2021 school year, and also an executive assistant to support the busy office. We’re not surprised that it will take two people to replace one Samoriski. The challenge will be to find another educator of big heart and high principles — sort of like Mary Lyon herself.

Talk about gardening

Literally — that’s the premise of Federal Street School teacher Karen Malley’s gardening project for learners of English as a second language. Malley used a grant from the local garden club to buy supplies her students needed to create their own small garden. The pandemic put a damper on her original plans, but now with the addition of a second grant, from the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages, Malley hopes to create not just a garden, but a curriculum to go with it. “This is project-based learning,” she said. “They’re learning English by learning about gardening.”

They’re also enjoying the fruits of their labors. Holding up a small carrot, fourth-grader Jose Colon Martinez raised it and said, “Try a bite. They’re so sweet.”

Malley said, “This little garden has made people feel hopeful and connected during this time.”

We predict that Malley will be growing farmers as well as English-language speakers with her new gardening curriculum.

Greenfield Recorder

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Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


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