Polk Central Elementary to unveil newly improved nature trail at ribbon-cutting ceremony

Published 11:03 am Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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Trail’s improvement used as a learning experience for students


MILL SPRING-On Friday, May 12, Polk Central Elementary School will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its newly improved nature trail. 

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Work began on the trail in September 2022, focusing mainly on trail signage, trash removal and invasive plant removal.

“Students are very excited about their work this year,” says Andrea Walter, one of the fifth-grade teachers that worked on the project. “The teacher team worked with Constructive Learning Design (RootED) to design the learning experiences. Funders for this project, which is just one of three Polk Central RootED initiatives, included private donors and the Kiwanis Club of Tryon.”

There will be new signs identifying plants on the trail, as well as added signs on either end of the trail to welcome visitors. In addition, virtual signs include information about common local animals, nature-related activities, and safety and survival in the wilderness. These virtual signs will be available via google maps on visitor’s smartphones. 

The virtual signs will also provide information documenting the history of Polk Central School. Students collected this history by conducting interviews with local residents, Polk Central staff, and parents and grandparents.

Students worked to remove invasive plants along the trail like privet, autumn olive and honeysuckle. These invasive plants were removed in order to make room for plants native to the area. The students worked with several groups, including Conserving Carolina, Americorps and Muddy Sneakers Learning Expeditions in order to learn about invasive plants and how to remove them. 

The ribbon cutting ceremony will be attended by Lisa Tolley of the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs, Conserving Carolina, Polk County Parks, Recreation and Maintenance, Constructive Learning Design and the fifth-grade students and their parents.

The ceremony will take place at the trail behind the school at 10 a.m. Community members are welcome and encouraged to attend. For questions or information regarding the event, contact Lisa Flynn at (828) 894-8233.