Recently, I had the good fortune to go hiking in Grand Teton National Park, leaving a sweltering city behind for the cool mountain air. Nothing restores me like being outdoors, especially if I am in a beautiful park. Hiking through Cascade Canyon was nothing short of awe inspiring and brought peace to my soul. Like most of you, I get lost in work and family responsibilities. I have learned that my one week each year hiking in a great national park is what I need to be restored. This afternoon, I headed out to my favorite conservation area where I hike multiple times a week in an effort to figure out what to write, especially for this final column. After high heat and big storms this week, the cool air from the north arrived. The creek was swollen and falls’ first leaves were on the trail. It’s time for autumn and it is exciting to think about October!
It has been a privilege to serve as chair, and I hope before Conference ends in October that I have met many more of you. St. Louis loves its parks, and we are fortunate to have a region and a state that has taxed itself many times to ensure every person has the opportunity to be in the outdoors. This year’s theme is “Connecting to Nature,” and we will be providing many opportunities indoors and out for you to learn more about this important topic. I think our region is a fitting place to celebrate nature, and I hope you get outside and enjoy the many beautiful parks that are a part of the mobile workshops.
While I am lucky to be able to travel to national parks, our local parks are what bind our communities together. The greenways our organization builds each year are about connecting people to nature and to each other. Not every community is blessed with a beautiful park, but thanks to NRPA’s Parks Build Community the city of Wellston in St. Louis County will be getting a very beautiful new park.
This is a community that struggles with life’s basic needs. The Wellston community has worked with us during this past year to design this park. Fundamentally, they asked for a safe place to gather, where grandparents can take their grandchildren to play and be in the outdoors. The park is named for the Wellston High School mascot, the Trojans. Wellston lost its high school a few years ago, but there are many proud Trojan alum who sent up a cheer when they heard the park’s name. I am deeply grateful to all of the vendors, consultants, contractors, staff and contributors who helped bring this park to life.
I invite each of you to join us at the ribbon cutting. For me, the joy of watching people play in a brand new park is what makes our work so much fun and so meaningful.
Susan K. Trautman, CPRP, is the Chair of NRPA's Board of Directors