Trail Finder

Welcome Emily!

Trail intern Emily M

We are excited to announce that we have a new intern here at UConn CLEAR and the CT Trail Program!

Emily Markelon is an environmental studies and journalism student at the University of Connecticut, planning to graduate in the fall of 2024. She is the Twitter and Facebook chair for UConn’s chapter of Her Campus, a nationally recognized online women’s magazine, and she is the Director of Administration for her sorority Alpha Omicron Pi. 

Emily will be working primarily on CT Trail Finder, specifically trailside services to start, and we look forward to applying her skills and talents to other aspects of the program. Welcome Emily!

 

Connecticut Trail Finder is Hiring! Apply for the Paid Student Internship, Fall 2021

Connecticut Trail Finder Paid Student Internship, Fall 2021

Supervisor contact: This internship will be co-supervised by Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator – New Haven County Extension Center, Contact- Laura Brown: Cell 608-886-0655 laura.brown@uconn.edu and Kimberly Bradley, CT Trail Census/Trail Finder Coordinator Cell 860-581-3130 Kimberly.bradley@uconn.edu

Office location: Remote. Weekly online meetings (computer required) will be required.

Background:
The CT Trail Finder http://cttrailfinder.com/ will be a free, interactive mapping site designed to help Connecticut residents and visitors find hiking, walking, snowshoeing, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and paddling trails across the state. Our goal is to help people get out, be active, and explore our state’s treasures. Detailed trail description pages will allow users to view the trails, get essential information, submit trip comments and photos, find nearby geocaches, and a whole lot more. Users will be able to track trail experiences, noting trails that they have completed, their favorites, or ones they want to visit.

Tasks/Responsibilities:
This internship will involve assisting with communications, outreach, and technical aspects of the CT Trail Finder including: developing topical social media postings for Facebook and Instagram, supporting development of narrative for trail postings, working within website platform to publish trail information, assisting with in-person outreach events, participating in team coordination meetings. The student should have excellent communication, writing and organizational skills, and ability to work effectively independently as well as coordinate with a professional team involved in overseeing these projects.

Date ranges and work times: Remote. Weekly online meetings (computer required) will be required and some travel around the state may be required to fully participate in the program. Interns will have the opportunity to be present in an office in New Haven or Haddam as needed but the majority of the work hours will be self-managed. Dates and work hours will be mutually agreed upon at the start of the internship.

The intern will have the opportunity to:
• Learn about the multiple values of trails as resources for recreation, health promotion, and economic or tourism development;
• Learn how state agencies partner with local and private conservation organizations to advance and promote outdoor recreation.
• Enhance their skills in educational communications (writing and verbal presentation skills) for a public audience

Mentorship commitment:
Trail Finder Coordinator Kim Bradley and Community & Economic Development Educator Laura Brown will work closely with the intern to discover key learning objectives and interests. The intern will be required to participating in weekly team coordination meetings. We would also encourage the intern to participate in trainings, meetings and activities around the state proving them with connections and career contacts in our program partner organizations such as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Forest and Park Association and the National Park Service. We will also support the student in identifying additional related learning and career opportunities following the internship experience.

Compensation: $15/hour, ~10 hours per week for 10 weeks. Total compensation will be $1,500 with potential for continuing through the Spring and Summer semester.

To Apply: Please send a short cover letter expressing interest and resume to laura.brown@uconn.edu and kimberly.bradley@uconn.edu. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis with estimated start date October 4, 2021.

My Environmental Story: An End of a Chapter

Author: Khadija Shaikh

This summer, I got an internship with a newly grant-funded project, the Connecticut Trail Finder. It was the first environmental-related job I ever held and to say I am sad that it is ending today would be an understatement. You see, this summer was not only a positive experience but a healthy one. I was grateful enough to learn about resilience, perseverance, and assertiveness. The rapport that was established between me and my supervisors was one I had dreamed about when first entering the workforce. 

 

Being a Muslim Indian woman who chooses to wear Hijab, it can quite difficult for me to believe in myself and be proud of the career path I have chosen. It is not just due to the stereotypical Indian parental and societal pressures but also because of the lack of representation in the environmental field. Just recently did I declare myself an environmentalist because for so long I never really understood how a Muslim Indian woman who chooses to wear Hijab fit into this dominating white discipline. Instead, of positive experiences, I hear of marginalized members being mistreated and tokenized in the workplace due to their lack of matching the stereotypical white, male, “tree-hugger vegan” of an environmentalist. Due to these encounters and insecurities, I was fearful to apply for an internship, afraid that I would quickly join the group of discriminated marginalized environmentalists. However, this fear lessened as I began my summer internship. 

 

My supervisors have continuously and constantly supported and encouraged me to be a “go-getter”. From even before I started my internship, during my interview, I remember feeling at ease speaking with them about my passions, experiences, and career goals. They responded with such excitement and with such cheer that it felt like they wanted what was best for me. I really appreciated that. At the beginning of each week, my supervisors would check in with me to establish the goals and priorities for the week, but also see how I was doing mentally and emotionally. This summer was intense for personal reasons, however, the relationship I had with my supervisors allowed me to be honest during my weekly check-ins and know that my supervisors were my advocates

 

The summer internship was not all easy though, it challenged me. As I mentioned previously, I learned what it meant to be assertive and how important it is to be. Prior to this internship, I was passive when relaying my ideas and opinions, I would never come forth with my own until I felt comfortable enough to and even then, that was rare. I wasn’t brought up in a household where I could freely speak my mind, and with the lack of diverse representation in the environmental field, it felt even harder to be able to feel valued enough to voice my concerns. However, the team I worked with during my internship made it a point to ask me for my thoughts and for what my goals were for the internship. It was a relationship in where my team members wanted me to grow and thrive. I felt appreciated and as if I ever needed help, there would be plenty of people more than willing to offer. 

 

This summer I got an internship. One that provided me with an expectation of a healthy work environment, role models who exhibit perseverance, and values of assertiveness and honesty. I am thankful for this experience, however, I am a bit upset that it was such a great one because now it will be ending. I know it is for the best, I have opportunities lined up for the future, but now I have this expectation and knowledge of what it’s like to work in a place where you are encouraged constantly to speak your mind and push for the projects that you want to make happen. I just hope that I continue to have experiences such as this one. 

 

Thank you Kimberly Bradley and Laura Brown for your endless support and love, I appreciate both of you. Thank you to the rest of the CT Trails Team and partners, I have had such a wonderful time working with all of you, I hope our paths cross sometime soon. 

 

As we say farewell to Khadija Shaikh for all of her time and hard work, we also would like to say if you ever want to contact us, please feel free to at trails@uconn.edu

My Environmental Story: I can do more.

Author: Sharon Gray

My environmental story starts at a young age. I grew up in Upstate New York and nature was all around us. We had a field and forest as our backyard and my sister, brother, and I was forever playing in it. My family camped at Lake George and we vacationed at a cottage on Cape Cod every summer. I learned to ski at a young age as New York winters are long. I have skied all over New York, New England, Colorado, Wyoming, and California. Skiing brings you into nature’s winter wonders – sunlit days, fog, and cold and windy ones. 

Later as a young adult, I learned to sail. I sailed from Cape Vincent, New York often, which is a small village on Lake Ontario. I have also sailed the Finger lakes, Boston Harbor, and San Franciso Bay on all kinds of sailboats. I worked on a Tall Ship, the Regina Maris (a beautiful Barquentine – which had three masts) for nine months – sailing from Boston to Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. I loved climbing, the rigging, pulling in the sails, and the view. Being at sea and watching the stars at night with no other light is a magical experience that I miss. I also miss the interplay of the ocean, the tides, and the sea creatures. I am grateful for these experiences. Sailing is an immersion into the natural world -water and wind power the boat, but the beauty is all around you.

My environmental story is unique, I guess, as I have done it through the lens of someone with a disability. I have been an amputee for most of my life. I am quite adept at crutches and have been able to hike all but the most challenging and steep trails. I have been able to experience so many outdoor sports, but with unique challenges. I hiked 2 peaks in the Adirondacks the year that I lived there – it was exhausting and difficult, but worth the validation that I could do it and the view. I have a sensitivity to others with disabilities who may not have access to trails at all. Making open spaces and greenways accessible to individuals with disabilities is a must – as all of us deserve the benefits of the natural world. 

I worry about climate change as others do. I am concerned that my children and their children are facing a less hospitable planet to live on. I fear my carbon footprint is too great. I recycle, consign clothing, and have used reusable shopping bags forever, but I still drive a gas-using car, use too much paper and plastic, and use oil heat for my house. I care about using more vegetarian options to cut down on meat consumption. My youngest daughter tells me Bill Gates’s annual carbon footprint is 7,493 metric tons (how does she know this?) and mine is probably 5, but I can do more. My goal is to keep trying…little actions over time can lead to bigger outcomes.

I so value the perspectives of this team as we share stories, embrace good practices, promote diversity and inclusion, and expand the vision to make outdoor spaces open and accessible to everyone. Local impacts matter – and a group voice is powerful.

As we thank Sherry for her story, we also welcome communication and feedback! If you at all have any questions, concerns, or just want to have a conversation regarding what we share please contact us at trails@uconn.edu

Making Connections in Keney Park

Author: Stephanie Stroud

Keney Park is a place with a fascinating history. It is one of the biggest designed landscapes in the United States, and it was designed by the famous “Founder of Landscape Architecture,” Frederick Law Olmsted, in his very own birthplace of Hartford, CT! 

Today, this gem of a park offers woodland trails, sweeping grassy views, playgrounds, golf, and much more. It is the home of the Keney Park Sustainability Project, where founder Herb Virgo is working to create the next generation of healthy, productive, and environmentally conscious citizens. Keney Park may also be the missing link to safely connect North Hartford residents and visitors with their local riverfront for recreation—whether by foot, bike, scooter, wheelchair, or other modes of travel!    

The City of Hartford has been awarded a grant of planning assistance from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) to help explore options to safely connect North Hartford neighborhoods and Keney Park visitors to the Connecticut River. Sometimes people may not know that they have an incredible park in their own neighborhood, and even if they do visit the park, they may not know all of the great amenities it has to offer! We hope to share all of the close-to-home opportunities that are available at Keney Park with Hartford residents, while also exploring community ideas for how to improve connectivity and discover what else their local park may be able to offer. 

This past June, members of the PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team joined the Keney Park Sustainability Project and the City of Hartford on a bike ride to explore Keney Park. CT Trail Finder and Trail Census coordinator, Kimberly Bradley, and Stephanie Stroud took some awesome photos shown below!

We are looking very forward to the journey to Keney Park!  As always if you have any feedback, please let us know at trails@uconn.edu

My Environmental Story: A Lifetime of Loving the Great Outdoors

Author: Dr. Jenifer Nadeau

It wasn’t that long ago that I suddenly realized that I was an environmentalist. I was reading something in an outdoor magazine and it hit me and I thought to myself, “Oh, wow, I guess I am an environmentalist!” In Khadija’s previous post, she defined the term “environmentalist” = as traditionally defined as an individual who advocates for the protection of the environment.

I have always loved being outside in nature. Pretty much since I was born, I was always in love with being around horses. When I was eight, my parents gave me a trail ride at a local stable for my birthday. We didn’t have much money and I told them I wanted to keep riding. There was no way we could afford it, so my mom asked them if I could work for rides. That began my career in the horse industry and my love of the outdoors.

My father was a Boy Scout leader and my mother and I would go visit wherever they were staying, which was always in the wilderness. The first “hike” I remember (which was holding both of my parents’ hands and swinging through the air over rocks) was fitting, to a place called Inspiration Point in the Catskills. I remember thinking “this hiking stuff is pretty cool”.

I spent many hours riding on the trails as a backup rider and outside in the elements working around the horses. We had a trailer at a trailer park where you walked to the lake and though I liked it there I preferred to be at the barn which made my father a bit sad because he loved the lake. But I loved the trees and the horses and the sand under their hooves and the smell of the great outdoors (it was in pine barrens, which is now a protected preserve!).

As time went on, the stable had to be sold and I began to work at other types of horse farms that didn’t involve trail riding. But something was missing…When I was in college, I joined the Sierra Club and I remember one particular instance in which I held a sign and handed out brochures about the Clean Air Act at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park when I was in graduate school. Upon graduation, I became a faculty member and equine extension specialist at the University of Connecticut (UConn). 

I was happy to learn that there was a Horse Farm of Environmental Awareness Program in Connecticut, and I got to work with professionals from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and other environmental professionals. They taught me a lot about how horse owners could better protect the environment as I helped them judge farms for the program. I was able to then pass on this information in extension talks, fact sheets, and in my teaching. I was also able to start teaching the Trail Practicum when I received tenure. I teach the riders in the Practicum about how to best protect the trails from damage. I have continued this work by joining the PATHs (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) team at UConn to help promote trail etiquette, the best practices for construction, and the protection of trails. So I guess you would say I have come almost full circle in a way: going back to my original start of loving trails! 

When I’m not working, I enjoy hiking with my dogs Fox (a foxhound!) and Sheena (hound mix) on the trails with my boyfriend Dave, who I met when I was leading a hike for the Appalachian Mountain Club, of which we are still members. They do a lot for trail protection too. They have even preserved a lot of Maine (about 70,000 acres) in what they call the 100-mile wilderness. And of course, I never pass up a chance to take a trail ride whether on vacation or with friends. And I still love the outdoors and I hope I can do whatever I can to help protect it. I can’t imagine life without a boreal forest* or moose! 

I hope to continue my work to try to educate horse owners and other users of land on how to protect our wild resources. I am also very concerned that everyone does not feel welcome in the outdoors, I had honestly never realized it was a problem or concern for people. I just thought everyone knew they could always enjoy being outside. I hope to be a better advocate/supporter of anyone interested in venturing out. I always greet people with a friendly “hi” even if I don’t know them…always have! Climate change is also very concerning and I hope that we can find ways to mitigate it. I try to learn more about the environment by reading magazines and keeping up on the issues and being an informed citizen. Hope to see you in the great outdoors!

 

~Dr. Jenifer Nadeau

 

*Definitions: 

Boreal Forest = Forests growing in high-latitude environments where freezing temperatures occur for 6 to 8 months and in which trees are capable of reaching a minimum height of 5 m and a canopy cover of 10%. http://ibfra.org/about-boreal-forests/ 

 

As a side note, we welcome communication and feedback! If you at all have any questions, concerns, or just want to have a conversation regarding what we share please contact us at trails@uconn.edu

CT Trail Finder: How to Turn it into an App!

Author: Kimberly Bradley

Hello everyone! On behalf of the Connecticut Trail Finder team, I have an announcement to make: there is a way to make the Connecticut Trail Finder Website an app on your phone! Though it is not an application you can download through the app store on your device, it is instead a way to bookmark the website to visually resemble an app on your home screen. Below I have listed the instructions based on your browser:

Instructions if your browser is Safari (iPhone’s browser)

  1. Go to www.cttrailfinder.com on Safari
  2. Click the upload button at the bottom of the screen
  3. Scroll down the pop-up menu until you see the option “Add to Home Screen”
  4. Click on the option “add to your home screen” and adjust the title/name to what you prefer
  5. Click the “Add” button in the top right corner
  6. This should redirect you to your home screen where you can now see the website as an application and can move it as one

Instructions if your browser is Google Chrome

  1. Go to www.cttrailfinder.com on Google Chrome
  2. Click the three dots in the top right corner
  3. Find and click on the option “Add to Home Screen” on the pop-up menu
  4. Adjust the title/name to what you prefer
  5. Click the “Add” button
  6. Click “Add automatically” on the new pop-up menu
  7. This should redirect you to your home screen where you can now see the website as an application and can move it as one

Instructions if your browser is Firefox

  1. Go to www.cttrailfinder.com on Firefox
  2. Click the three dots in the lower right corner
  3. Find and click on the option “Install” on the pop-up menu
  4. Click “Add automatically” on the pop-up menu
  5. This should redirect you to your home screen where you can now see the website as an application and can move it as one

Instructions if your browser is Samsung Internet Browser

  1. Go to www.cttrailfinder.com on Samsung Internet Browser
  2. Click the three-bar button in the lower right corner
  3. Find and click on the option “Add Page to” on the pop-up menu
  4. Click on the option “Home Screen” on the new pop-up menu
  5. Click “Add automatically” on the new pop-up menu
  6. This should redirect you to your home screen where you can now see the website as an application and can move it as one

 

We are very excited to be able to let you know about this update! If you run into any issues, please let us know at trails@uconn.edu

My Environmental Story: It’s Quite Unconventional and Still Evolving.

Author: Khadija Shaikh

If you had told me two years ago that I was to be an environmentalist* and fight for the planet, I would have laughed. I would have said “There are much more important things to advocate for. People around the world are being discriminated against because of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, who they love, their gender, and much more. Sure it’s important to protect the Earth but why would I waste my time fighting for national parks, when I could advocate for marginalized communities?” I would have said this because before, I never thought of how the two topics intersected with one another: climate change and social justice. 

 

My environmental education before college consisted of the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), the water cycle in three steps (condensation, precipitation, and evaporation), and an AP Environmental Science which focused on pollution and food chains. I never once pondered how my science classes connected to my passion for social justice, and I simply put the two in separate boxes. Outside of class, I spent my time organizing food drives, protests, collaborations amongst different peoples, but not once did I think climate change could be connected to it all. My parents never spoke of the importance of conservation or the environment, except when it came to dinner time and I didn’t want to finish my food. The typical saying “don’t waste your food, people around the world are starving” would be the only time my parents subtly mentioned food injustice, but again there was no mention of how climate justice was related. 

 

My entire childhood I lived in a typical southern suburban neighborhood where the closest shopping complex was a five-minute drive away. I rarely spent time in a forest, on a trail, in the ocean, in places that would be defined as nature as those places were at least a two-hour drive away. I wasn’t exposed nor encouraged to enjoy the outdoors because my life revolved around the question “will this put me in harm’s way?” See, I am an Indian Muslim Woman who wears Hijab. Too many times I have been merely outside on a walk, or in a classroom, or scrolling through social media, and I have been threatened, shouted at, or grabbed at. No wonder, my parents did not want me to spend much time away from them and outside. 

 

I did not truly connect the two, social justice and climate change until I attended a Fridays for Future protest during my senior year in high school. It was there, I learned of the term “climate justice”* and how it was so very connected to social justice. It was there, I saw a BIPOC* woman talk about climate change and how it was her job to speak up and work towards systemic change. Previously, I had not once seen a BIPOC individual whose ideals aligned with those of an environmentalist. At this moment, I was interested in the idea of becoming an environmentalist. For me, the reason was due to the belief that environmentalism is intersectional*, all-encompassing of social justice movements. It was due to the belief that a radical* approach to environmentalism meant grasping the issues at their roots and finding solutions. It was due to the belief that to be an environmentalist you didn’t need the pre-requisites of being white, or a male, or a vegan, it meant that you could be an Indian Muslim Woman who wears Hijab. 

 

However, still now, two years later, if you were to tell me that I am an environmentalist, I would be proud but still conflicted. I still have doubts and questions because this climate movement still has much work to do to become inclusive of all stories, backgrounds, and experiences. This movement is not normalized as being intersectional or radical or one with a climate justice priority. To this day, I still question “who exactly is an environmentalist?” because to this day can I only think of one other Desi* Muslim Woman who wears Hijab and claims to be an environmentalist. My Environmental Story is still evolving as I continue to learn how I fit in the environmental movement, or more like how I can make it normal for Desi Muslim Women who wear Hijab to be apparent in the environmental movement. 

 

*Definitions:

Environmentalist = is traditionally defined as an individual who advocates for the protection of the environment. How do you define this term? How can we make this definition more inclusive?

Climate Justice = a term used to approach climate change and environmentalism as an ethical and political issue instead of one that is only physical. This means the inclusion of human rights, equality, and historical injustice. 

BIPOC = Black, Indigenous, and other Peoples Of Color. This acronym is used to highlight the historic oppression of marginalized communities. 

Intersectional = a framework conceptualized and coined by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw that allows for the relationship between different aspects of a person’s different identities to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. 

Radical = is traditionally thought of as extreme, however, means originating from the root. 

Desi = a people and their culture originating from India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh

 

As a side note, we welcome communication and feedback! If you at all have any questions, concerns, or just want to have a conversation regarding what we share please contact us at trails@uconn.edu

My Environmental Story: A Blog Series

As part of this blog, we will be including a blog series, My Environmental Story, which will be a place where the discussion of one’s journey as an environmentalist will change and transform as one learns more about the world around them. This series will highlight individuals and their honest reflections and introspections. The goal of this blog is to emphasize how every individual has a unique environmental story reflective of their different backgrounds and experiences. We are thrilled to be able to include this series of blogs and we hope you enjoy reading them!

Also, please keep in mind that any opinions expressed in these blog posts are those of the author and not the opinion of Connecticut Trails or the University of Connecticut. If you at any time have questions, concerns, or just want to have a conversation regarding what we share please contact us at trails@uconn.edu