Partnership with Kids in Parks Paves Way for a TRACK Trail at The N.C. Arboretum
ASHEVILLE, NC – A new trail at The North Carolina Arboretum will have families following in the footsteps of a box turtle. Developed as part of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program, the new TRACK Trail is designed to encourage exploration and foster excitement about nature. An opening celebration is set for March 22 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Developed through a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, the Kids in Parks TRACK Trails program provides families with a network of self-guided hiking trails. Brochures with suggested adventures are available for each trail, and children can earn prizes for TRACKing their hikes in online nature journals on the Kids in Parks website.
“The North Carolina Arboretum is a perfect place for a TRACK Trail,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “Getting our kids and families connected with the natural and cultural history of the region is important to sustainability of our natural places.”
The Arboretum TRACK Trail is a 1.3 mile loop through mixed hardwood forest and formal gardens. According to Jonathan Marchal, Arboretum Youth Education Manager, the TRACK Trail offers families a new way to explore. “The TRACK Trail enables us to provide an educational experience for families that can be accomplished at their own pace,” said Marchal. “It encourages visitors to explore our gardens, but also offers suggested activities along our forested trails. Opportunities for kids to explore their natural world and get their hands dirty are essential, and that’s what the TRACK Trail provides.” In addition to the traditional Hide and Seek adventures that accompany TRACK Trails, the Arboretum trail features a special activity. Turtle Tales leads children on a walk from the point of view of Shelly, an Eastern Box Turtle.
As part of the opening celebration, a number of special activities are planned. Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in pond exploration, as well as a scavenger hunt for soil invertebrates. Arboretum Community Partner, Asheville Wild Birds Unlimited, will be on hand to offer advice on backyard bird watching and feeding. Children can discover the delicate majesty of butterflies on a meadow hunt for the winged beauties, and a tour of the EcoLab classroom will offer the chance to meet Shelly, the Eastern Box Turtle from Turtle Tales.
The Arboretum TRACK Trail is the eighth Kids in Parks program trail in the Asheville area, with 81 trails currently in the national network. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 1:00 p.m. at the TRACK Trail trailhead, followed by a hike led by The North Carolina Arboretum education staff. For more information, please call (828) 665-2492 or visit www.ncarboretum.org. The central mission of The North Carolina Arboretum, an affiliate institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system, is to cultivate connections between people and plants.
About the Kids in Parks Program
Kids in Parks is a program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and was formed through partnerships between the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. Working together with partners throughout the country, their mission is to promote children’s health and the health of our parks by engaging families in outdoor adventures that increase physical activity and foster a meaningful connection to the natural and cultural world.
About the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, is the primary fundraiser and trusted steward of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Foundation is forever committed to preserving the past, enhancing the present, and safeguarding the future of America’s Favorite Journey®. We are proud to serve and support this extraordinary environment that connects the spirit of countless people through a twisting ribbon of mountain road. We are a strong defender of the Parkway, funding needed projects that enhance and protect the natural, cultural, historic, and recreational qualities that make the Blue Ridge Parkway an American treasure. For more information visit www.brpfoundation.org and www.kidsinparks.com
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is a separate, independent, nonprofit Foundation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. The Foundation's focus areas include: Health of Vulnerable Populations - improving health outcomes of populations served by safety net organizations; Healthy Active Communities - increasing physical activity and encouraging healthy eating habits; and Community Impact through Nonprofit Excellence - increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. BCBSNC Foundation invests programs and services in response to grant requests and proactively creates initiatives or partners with organizations to address specific needs. It also coordinates several Signature Programs, among them, the Be Active Kids® and Healthy Community Institute for Nonprofit Excellence. More information is available at www.bcbsncfoundation.org.