In December 2017, Anita Evans of The Nature Connection (TNC) announced that TNC would be the recipient of a $1.7 million Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Inspire Grant. The project includes cash and in-kind matching contributions, totaling over $1.2 million, from dozens of community organizations, including Delta County Libraries.
"It is a natural partnership for us," says LaDonna Gunn, assistant district director of Delta County Libraries and board member of TNC.
"Like TNC, the library district strongly emphasizes serving and empowering youth. Our geographic location here in Delta County provides many opportunities for engaging kids in the outdoors. TNC's GOCO grant is investing in multiple StoryWalks® in Delta County and a gear hub at Cedaredge Library. That paves the way for a long-lasting collaboration that will benefit the community for years to come."
The new StoryWalks® will be located at Crawford State Park, Sweitzer Lake State Park and Delta County Fairgrounds.
StoryWalks® are the positioning of permanent panels along trails and in parks that feature children's storybooks. The outdoor space sets the scene for a story to unfold as the reader walks from one panel to the next along the trail.
"Delta County Libraries and the Town of Cedaredge have been maintaining a StoryWalk® along the Surface Creek Trail since December 2016," says Gunn. "We are excited that TNC and the GOCO grant are providing the opportunity to expand such a widely popular program to more communities."
Delta County Libraries, along with collaborating organizations like Colorado Parks and Wildlife, will maintain the StoryWalks® as part of their in-kind matching contribution to the GOCO grant.
"For us that means purchasing, preparing and replacing stories on a bi-monthly basis at all locations. We will also play a role in getting the word out to the community, so that families, school groups, and individuals can all enjoy the StoryWalks®," explains Gunn.
The GOCO grant also provides for the installation of several gear hubs, one of which is located at Cedaredge Library.
"The Cedaredge gear hub shed was installed on Saturday, May 12, at Cedaredge Library," says Lea Hart, district director of Delta County Libraries. "Our Cedaredge foundation members are very excited about this addition to the library, and our staff are anticipating the opportunities that it will provide for programming."
The Cedaredge location serves as a satellite hub to TNC's central gear hub located in Hotchkiss. It will house camping, fishing, bicycling and other outdoor gear for use by youth participating in outdoor programs. Delta and Olathe will have similar satellite hubs.
"The Cedaredge hub is unique in the way that it is located at the library, and library staff will play a role in managing the workload and program development," says Gunn. "Staff are already planning activities and field trips for later on this summer, including Fishing 101 on the Grand Mesa!"
To learn more about TNC and the GOCO grant, visit thenatureconnection.net. For more information on library programs, visit the online calendar at deltalibraries.org.
The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vt., and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state's parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO's independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,700 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.