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Trails for Schools Program

Kids In Action

The HNA has built interpretive ecology trails at several schools including
Bishop Marshall School (Morrisville)
and Washington (VT)

Working with faculty and students, the HNA inventories the natural resources present on school property and develops a plan for building one or more trails that can be used as an outdoor classroom, taking students through a variety of habitats.

Students are lead by HNA staff through a wide variety of activities that culminate in a completed trail, with a map and brochure.

Call or write if you would like to discuss a trail project for your school.

Read about the HNA/BJAMS Trail Project with the
Bishop John A. Marshall School.

Hazen's   Notch   Association
Bringing People Together to Conserve Vermont's Natural Resources
 _________  Chester A. Arthur Walkway  ________


More Than Just A Walk In The Woods
270 Fairfield Students Pitch In on Pathway

   If 300 Fairfield Center School students had a hammer ... well, they'd build a trail. And that's exactly what they're doing.

   The school, and all its students, are hard at work on a five-day interdisciplinary project designing and building a walking path at the historic Chester A. Arthur birthplace in Fairfield.

   The brainstorm of fifth grade teachers Bette Howrigan and Maureen Thompson, the project is using students from all grades in age-appropriate work at the site and also enlists the help of the Hazen's Notch Association and its President, Rolf Anderson of Montgomery.

   Teachers at FCS work on large scale projects each year, but this time around decided to work together on a very community-oriented goal.

    "I live here, I teach here, my kids go to school here," said Howrigan. "I think it's important for the kids to give back to the community."

    She and other teachers attended a conference last year in Middlebury and got to see the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Ripton. "We thought, aha!" said Howrigan.

   And "aha" it is, as a year later, the warm sunny woods behind the Chester A. Arthur homestead are filled with students mapping, clearing, cutting, hammering, mulching and generally having a good time.

   Their enthusiasm is evident as the students go about their work in small teams, busily making a great deal of progress on their first day. "I guess we can do this in five days," said a student hurrying back with an empty bucket.

   Older students are nailing together boardwalks, sharing hammers and taking turns carrying the completed structures to their destinations. Others are filling and carrying buckets of mulch. Fifth graders are in the woods clearing out a trail that has been designed and mapped by older students. On an unseasonably steamy Monday, some are sitting quietly in the shade at the end of what looks to have been a full day.

   "People are really going to be interested in the trail," said fifth grader Maria Rainville. "I think it's important for people to experience the wildlife," added Kayla St. Pierre, also in the fifth grade. Morgan McMillan said she thought the trail was important becuase President Chester Arthur himself had probably walked through these same woods.

    The project is a large one, with students learning trail design, layout and construction, getting familiar with the tools and safety necessary for building a trail and using hands-on skills to improve treadways, and build and install bridges.

    The project will also teach students about natural resources, identifying wildlife and working to minimize negative impacts on the woods.

   Students are also interpreting the natural resources for the public with signs and a brochure, and documenting the process with songs, journals, drawings, photographs and a video. Community service comes in to play as well, as the students add a valuable resource to their community, to be marked at a special community day on October 3.

   Is it ambitious ? No, said Anderson. "Kids have an enormous amount of energy," he said. "They can get a lot of work done. One of the keys to tapping that energy source is to get kids excited about a project," Anderson said. "Last year, the fourth graders visited the site to plan the walkway, helping them prepare and getting them interested," Anderson said.

   Then, if the entire project is broken down into smaller jobs that can be accomplished with teamwork, no project is too ambitious. One of many positive aspects to this particular project is its "start-to-finish" nature. "They'll have a complete understanding of how the trail is designed and built," said Anderson. Another benefit is the degree of public visibility the student's work will have, he said. That, plus the morale boost that comes from seeing a complicated project completed cooperatively with the entire school pitching in to make the Chester A. Arthur Walkway much more than just a walk in the woods.

By Katharine Bilodeau, Editor,
County Courier,
Enosburg Falls, Vermont
September 12, 2002

News From the Hazen's Notch Association
Fairfield Trail Project - September 2002

   Students from the Fairfield School built a nature trail this week at the Chester A. Arthur Historic Site in Fairfield. Students from all grades, Kindergarten through 8th, got involved in cutting brush, placing stepping stones, spreading gravel and bark mulch and building bridges and boardwalk. The idea for the trail came from 5th Grade teachers Maureen Thompson and Bette Howrigan who felt that both the Fairfield School and the Chester A. Arthur Birthplace could benefit from such a trail. They contacted Rolf Anderson of the Hazenís Notch Association in Montgomery for help in planning and directing the project. The Hazenís Notch Association had been involved in trail projects at the Montgomery, Richford and Berkshire schools in recent years.

   A nature trail at the Chester Arthur Birthplace provides a number of benefits to the public and to the town of Fairfield. The land that lays to the south of the Chester Arthur home is well suited to a short trail loop that will provide visitors with an opportunity to experience the natural surroundings of the home and to learn about the interesting natural resource features that are present. Appropriate signage and a brochure/trail guide will expand the learning opportunities at the home by integrating the natural history with the cultural history. The recreational opportunity that this trail will provide will add to the overall quality of the experience for the visitor, especially those coming from some distance.

   Students at the Fairfield School will benefit from the trail in a variety of ways. The completed trail will provide an excellent setting for learning about the forest ecology of the area. While the grounds at the Fairfield Center School offer many opportunities for sports, the open nature of the landscape there is not suited to environmental education. The forest at the Chester A. Arthur Birthplace has many old trees of various species and will serve well as an outdoor classroom for Fairfield students. The proximity to the school also makes it an ideal location for field trips.

   The Trail Project has added benefits of involving students in an activity that fosters setting and achieving goals, promoting leadership through positive action, encouraging a spirit of volunteer service to the community and creating the satisfaction of making a lasting contribution to society.

   HNA staff naturalists and environmental educators carefully inventory plant and animal species prior to a trail project. Project leaders make every effort to avoid disturbing species and their habitats. HNA Trail Projects are sited so as to minimize disturbance to surfaces and to avoid the removal of vegetation.

   HNA environmental educators involved with the project include Rolf Anderson, President and co-founder of the Hazenís Notch Association, Sharon Anderson Ė co-founder of the Hazenís Notch Association, and Debbie Benjamin Ė HNA Staff Naturalist from Eden. All three HNA staff members are also active volunteer trail maintainers for the Green Mountain Club, builders and stewards of Vermontís famous Long Trail.

   Some significant aspects of the Chester A. Arthur Walkway include:

Teaching students about trail design, layout and construction;
Materials, tools and safety for trail building;
Identifying habitats and natural resource features;
Minimizing negative impacts to the natural resources;
Treadway construction (footpath, water bars, ditches)
Stepping stones, boardwalk & bridge design & construction
Wildlife habitat enhancements along the trail
Interpreting the natural resources for the public with signs & a brochure
Identifying the trail Ė trail name, measuring, marking & mapping
Trail management Ė rules for use, minimizing impacts
Documentation through songs, journals, drawings, photos, & video
Community Day Ė tours, demonstrations & celebration on October 3rd.

   The Hazenís Notch Association is a non-profit, member-supported, conservation organization located in Montgomery, Vermont. The HNA was founded in 1994 to promote and engage in conservation of agricultural and forest lands, environmental education, outdoor recreation, scientific research, and stewardship of natural resources. The HNA maintains a network of 30 miles of trails on 2,000 acres of private conservation land in Montgomery for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. The Association also operates a Summer Camp for children and conducts natural science field trips for area schools and other groups.

   For more information, contact the HNA at 326-4799 or visit our web site at:

Chester A. Arthur Walkway - Trail Project Leaders

   We are grateful to the following individuals who provided important leadership to the Chester A. Arthur Walkway Project :

Sharon & Rolf Anderson, Deborah Benjamin, Bette Howrigan and Maureen Thompson.

Community Support

   Countless individuals throughout northern Vermont have shown their support for the Hazen's Notch Association's programs through contributions to the HNA general fund, campership fund, stewardship fund and trails fund. Community leaders, school administrators and faculty, youth group and church leaders have all demonstrated their conviction that the HNA is meeting the needs of people across the area served by the HNA.

Partner Organizations

   We value the support of state and federal agencies, other non-profit organizations, and private trusts and foundations that contribute to the HNA through cooperative efforts to help achieve mutual goals of conservation, education, trail maintenance and stewardship.

   Our partners in the Chester A. Arthur Walkway Project include the following agencies and organizations:

Fairfield Center School, Vermont
Fairfield Vermont Historical Society
Town of Fairfield, Vermont
Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
Vermont Historical Society

Thank you!


Hazenís Notch Association, P.O. Box 478, Montgomery Center VT 05471
T: (802) 326-4799  ~  F: (802) 326-4966  
E:  ~   W:

Copyright 2001-2020 Hazen's Notch Association for the Environment, Inc.
 Photographs copyright Rolf Anderson 2001-2020.  All Rights Reserved.
This page was last updated January 1, 2020.