Lauren from Metroparks of the Toledo Area, Get Outdoors Recipient
Toledo looks a bit more wintery than it did when I last posted, but we’re still waiting for that big accumulation to hit. Despite the meager snowfall, park visitors have been curious and excited about our new snowshoes! An inch here and an inch there have allowed us to test them out in an unintimidating environment. People have loved snowshoeing around visitor centers and parking lots, where piles made by snowplows become great “training hills.”
Most of our experiences so far have been “pop-up programs.” Metroparks often uses this style of programming during the winter, when conditions change dramatically overnight and planning adventures in advance often ends up in a reschedule of a postponement of a rain check. “Pop-up programs” are not printed in our quarterly program guide, but rather announced spontaneously via social media when good conditions crop up and our staff is itching to get outside. We’ve had a great response to these programs, with dozens of people of all ages turning up to snowshoe with not much notice at all.
One style of snowshoe program that we’re very excited about is what we call “combo programs.” For these, we combine snowshoeing with an activity that we already offer at Metroparks. This allows us to tap into an established audience, expose them to new adventures, and offer a diverse menu of programs throughout the year. Last week we ran a Snowshoe Geocache program that was a big hit! Participants set out on snowshoes with GPS units to find geocaches hidden along the trail. Our next “combo program” will be a photography walk called “Snapshots by Snowshoe,” which will utilize Metroparks’ newly-renovated National Center for Nature Photography.
All of these programs have earned a bit of media attention! Several local news agencies showed up at our last pop-up program to check it out. The Blade, Toledo’s local newspaper, ran a feature story on our new snowshoes and our participation in the Get Outdoors Program. Check it out! Here’s a link to the article: http://www.toledoblade.com/Culture/2015/01/18/Toledo-Metroparks-jumps-in-on-snowshoeing-trend.html. We’re excited that the Toledo community is taking notice of this amazing opportunity!
As you can see, our snowshoes have been helping us reach lots of audiences in Toledo. We’ve already had way more winter fun than we were able to last year! Our challenge now is to get more groups of all kinds out to the Metroparks to snowshoe. We hope to use the momentum we’ve gained to help reach schools and teachers, getting kids on snowshoes at our parks or at their schools. We’re making the most of the snow we have, but hopefully that big snowfall is on its way!