Students at Hawkins Elementary School and the Natural Science Technology Center are in for a new kind of educational experience, courtesy of a partnership between Metroparks Toledo and the Toledo Public School system. The two organizations recently held a press conference to announce a bike trail connecting Hawkins to Toledo Botanical Gardens, an opportunity to connect students to nature and enhance their hands-on learning experience.
Dave Zenk, Executive Director for Metroparks Toledo, said that creating these connections between Hawkins and the Botanical Gardens, which became part of the Metroparks system three years ago, has innumerable benefits. “One of the great reasons that we’re here to celebrate is this intentionality that we’re using to connect both the neighborhoods and the students to these great natural resources,” he said in an interview with WTOL.
The plan for this bike trail has been in the works for over two years now, so the beginning of its construction has been highly anticipated. The trail will eventually surround the entirety of the Botanical Gardens.
Since Metroparks Toledo absorbed the Botanical Gardens, they’ve created a children’s discovery play area, along with other improvements that contributed to the amount of visitors doubling within the last three years. The bike trail will serve as easy access for students from both Hawkins and the NSTC; both schools are next to the Botanical Gardens. The accessibility of the bike trail will provide yet another immersive learning experience for even more young people.
Constructing the trail is just the beginning of the partnership between TPS and Metroparks Toledo, both of which plan on continuing to build community connections like this one in the near future.
“Partnerships like this just bring a wealth of opportunities for our students as well as this community,” added TPS Superintendent Dr. Romulus Durant. “To be able to know that you’re paying taxes, but at the same time you’re getting the education and wildlife experience in the Metroparks system.”