2016-10-08 / Front Page

Students inaugurate new OOB trails park

By LIZ GOTTHELF
Staff Writer


Loranger Memorial students Jossolyn Ricardo and Summer St. Louis stand near a sign at Milliken Mills Trail Park in Old Orchard Beach Friday morning. 
LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune Loranger Memorial students Jossolyn Ricardo and Summer St. Louis stand near a sign at Milliken Mills Trail Park in Old Orchard Beach Friday morning. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune OLD ORCHARD BEACH — About 50 local sixth-graders hit the trails Friday morning at the grand opening of Milliken Mills Trails Park.

Fall colors peaked out through the changing foliage of the woods on the beautiful autumn day, and the students trekked through the well-designated trails, stopping to read information about the area posted on signs and kiosks.

About a third of those students had a hand in creating the park while in fourth grade through a partnership with the town’s Conservation Commission.

Milliken Mills Trails Park encompasses 70 acres of wooded area on Portland Avenue, and connects with the Eastern Trail. In 1999, Janice Milliken Andrews donated 53 acres to the town to be used for a conservation area, and the town acquired the additional 17 acres from a failed subdivision.

Parking is available at 192 Portland Ave., where the town’s former animal shelter was located.

The project was funded with the help of an $8,000 Project Canopy grant, awarded in 2014. Project Canopy is a partnership between the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine.

As part of a fourth-grade project, local students researched the history and habitat of the area, and compiled information for signs, kiosks and the website millikenmillstrails.weebly.com. Then, with the help of high school students, they designed and built signs, kiosks and picnic tables, said Conservation Commission member Kimbark Smith.

“It is our hope this will become a new cornerstone of the community,” he said.

School officials hope the park will be used by the school system as part of the science curriculum and enhanced by students’ efforts going forward.

“I love it,” said sixth-grader Summer St. Louis, who worked on the project in fourth grade, researching the New England cottontail.

Fellow sixth-grader Jossolyn Ricardo said she studied animals and plants and enjoyed her work on the project.

“It was amazing. I got to learn a lot of information about them,” she said.

Former Conservation Commission member Karen Brozek said the project not only engaged students, but also helped them realize that even at a young age, they could have an impact on the community.

“They did a lot of work. They were truly amazing,” she said. “It was a long but fun project.”

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com.

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