Long Hunter State Park Honored for Literacy Project-2016

January 31, 2017  |  Permalink

HERMITAGE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) recognized Long Hunter State Park for Excellence in Innovation for park staff’s demonstrated ability to improve the park through new ideas. The innovative project Long Hunter accomplished in 2016 was the Reading Ranger Story Trail, which combines outdoor recreation and literacy for children and families.

“All 56 Tennessee State Parks strive and succeed in achieving our mission to preserve and protect unique examples of natural, cultural and scenic areas,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation Brock Hill. “But Long Hunter went above and beyond in 2016 thanks to the talent and skills of park staff and creative partnerships with local communities.”

The Reading Ranger Story Trail features reproduced images from a children’s nature book, author Marianne Berkes’ Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek, as interpretive markers along a quarter-mile wooded loop. The self-guided trail combines the love of reading with outdoor recreation, in an effort to get more kids outside and support statewide literacy goals.

“The Story Trail was developed with families and young children in mind,” said Park Ranger Leslie Anne Rawlings. “The signage motivates kids to keep reading until the end, and they’re actively learning about their natural environment at the same time.”

The Story Trail was a collaboration between Long Hunter State Park and the Mt. Juliet branch of the Wilson County Library. Library Director Tracy Horvath helped in selecting the book and with promotion. Peggy Simpson, library board member and director of Wilson County's (the Governor's) Books from Birth Foundation, attended the ribbon-cutting in June 2016, along with Claire Jones (Imagination Library) and TDEC’s Brock Hill.

The current Story Trail will be up and accessible to visitors until May and the park will unveil a new story this June.

The Annual Park Awards of Excellence – which honor five parks annually – were created to recognize exceptional work within Tennessee State Parks. The 2016 award winners were recognized at the Tennessee State Park annual park management conference on Jan. 17, 2017 at Montgomery Bell State Park. Parks are nominated by TDEC staff. Park Area Managers review the nominations and select finalists from each region, which are then voted on by Tennessee State Park leadership.

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Tennessee State Parks