Cuyahoga Valley National Park Junior Ranger Kayak Program

Cuyahoga Valley National Park's Junior Ranger Kayak Program engages youth in water-based recreation program and taught students trail conservation plans.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park sits just a short distance from the urban environments of Cleveland and Akron, yet seems worlds away. The winding Cuyahoga, a crooked river gives way to 33,000 acres of deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. The park is a refuge for flora and fauna, gives a sense of times past, and provides recreation and solitude for Ohio's residents and visitors.

For years the Cuyahoga River has been too polluted for the park to offer much in the way of water-based activities. Now, efforts to clean the river are starting to pay off. Subsequently, the park piloted a Junior Ranger Kayak Program for an approximately 120 youth. With Kent State University's Department of Recreation, the park offered water-based recreation programs. Additionally, the park's Division of Resource Protection developed an emergency services plan for river recreation, which allowed the park to advance a new form of recreation to many visitors.

Students adopted a trail system within the park and worked alongside their teachers, park staff, and volunteers to create a more sustainable and accessible trail for future visitors. The hands-on nature of this program allowed students the opportunity to help the park create a template for learning and trail conservation for the future.