(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz announced today that the state is awarding more than $28,000 in grants for new or improved children’s literacy trails in Ashland, Athens, Champaign, Ottawa, and Preble counties.
The grants, awarded as part of ODNR’s Recreational Trails Grant Program, will fund trail and trailhead construction, maintenance, and storybook signage for each trail. Similar to ODNR’s Storybook Trails at 11 state parks, the local trails will promote the benefits of early literacy and a healthy lifestyle.
“Developing an appreciation for reading at a young age is so important for children as they grow, and we are excited to award these grants to help more communities combine the love of reading with the love of nature,” said Governor DeWine.
“These trails give families a new and exciting way to get out and spend time,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “I’m excited that even more communities will be able to build these trails and encourage children to learn in a really fun way, all while teaching them the importance of protecting our natural resources.”
ODNR Recreational Trail Grant Awards
- The Ashland County Park District will receive $5,173 for a new trail at Byers Woods.
- The Village of Chauncey in Athens County will be awarded $5,233.19 to expand their story walk trail along the Bailey’s Trail System.
- Goshen Township Memorial Park will receive $5,160.80 to create a new Mechanicsburg story walk.
- The Black Swamp Conservancy will be awarded $5,060 for the creation of a permanent storybook trail at the Dr. Robert L. Nehls Memorial Nature Preserve.
- The Village of Lewisburg will receive $7,856 for a storybook walking path at Lewisburg Community Park.
The Recreational Trails Program is a reimbursement grant program that provides up to 80% project funding. This grant program is federally funded and is administered by the ODNR in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration.
ODNR, in partnership with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, launched Ohio’s Storybook Trail program in 2019. Eleven half-mile Storybook Trails are located at state parks in Ohio, each with 15-20 child-height panels featuring pages of a children’s book and an activity to accompany the text on the page. A Little Free Library can be found at each site and visitors can borrow books for free or donate books to the collection.
There are currently 308,640 children enrolled in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, which provides one free book every month to children enrolled in the program from birth to age five. To learn more about the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library and how to participate, visit OhioImaginationLibrary.org.
An interactive map of ODNR’s Storybook Trails, as well as similar trails located at parks and library districts across the state, can be found at ohiodnr.gov.