Lauren from Metroparks of the Toledo Area, Get Outdoors Recipient
It recently felt like Christmas had come early to Metroparks of the Toledo Area, as several boxes from Tubbs Snowshoes were delivered to our offices. My fellow programmers and I tore open the packages, oooh-ing and aaah-ing at the brand new Tubbs snowshoes contained therein. I could almost hear the mental gears turn as we all began to dream of the programs we would plan, the groups we would snowshoe with, the winter fun that would transpire! And the timing was perfect: the first snow of the season had arrived just two days earlier! Eager to try out our new gear, I reached for my winter coat…
…And then I remembered that it was presently 55 degrees and sunny.
I love living in Northwest Ohio. The wide variety of landscapes, fascinating flora and fauna, and rich local history are just some of the things that make my job as a programmer and interpreter so rewarding. However, the roll-of-the-dice weather can be frustrating – especially now, when we have just been selected as recipients for the Get Outdoors program!
Last year’s dice rolled a “polar vortex,” as I’m sure I don’t need to remind you. While the record-shattering snowfall made for great backyard play, it created a conundrum for my colleagues and me. You see, we had recently been given the opportunity to revamp our agency’s Outdoor Skills division. Our goal is to offer adventurous outdoor experiences designed to foster in participants a connection to the land, hopefully inspiring them to support conservation efforts. This effort was launched just as the legendary snows were beginning to accumulate, providing an outstanding opportunity to plan all sorts of fun snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding adventures!
There was just one problem: we didn’t have any snowshoes, cross-country skis, or sleds.
We tried offering “Bring Your Own Gear” programs, but we just didn’t get enough participants. Lots of Toledoans love the idea of outdoor recreation, but it seems that not many of them already own the proper equipment. While our agency is committed to providing these opportunities, we simply don’t have the funds to purchase every piece of equipment that we would like to own. So days turned to weeks inside our little programming office, with inches of snow far outnumbering program registration, and not many adventures transpired.
Thanks to Tubbs and the Get Outdoors program, though, this season will be different! We are so excited to finally be able to bring winter adventure to our community. We hope to hold snowshoeing programs for all sorts of audiences, including school groups, scout troops, homeschoolers, teens, and more. Snowshoes are so versatile that we will be able to trek all across our park district, tromping through nine Metroparks that span nearly eight thousand acres. We will be able to craft brand new programs and adapt popular preexisting snowshoe-friendly programs. Our opportunities are as boundless as the snowdrifts themselves!
It may be clear and sunny today, but as any wise denizen of the Midwest knows, a blizzard could be just around the next Great Lake. Now that Metroparks of the Toledo Area is outfitted with a fleet of brand new snowshoes, we will be eagerly awaiting the white stuff, which will be seen this season as an opportunity rather than a nuisance.