Community comes together to build trail

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Apr 30, 2014 - 01:17 PM

Photo: Thomas Hunter Middle School science teacher Jerry Ligon, far right, with the help of the Mathews community, is creating a nature trail in the woods around the school grounds so his students will be able to acquire hands-on experience with nature. The trail begins with this bridge over an outfall ditch. Helping Ligon build the bridge are Coast Guard volunteers, from left, John Mitchell, Henry James, James Hill and Eric Quamme; father-and-son duo Dan and Henry Moore; and (not pictured) division technology coordinator Bill Vrooman. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Thomas Hunter Middle School science teacher Jerry Ligon, far right, with the help of the Mathews community, is creating a nature trail in the woods around the school grounds so his students will be able to acquire hands-on experience with nature. The trail begins with this bridge over an outfall ditch. Helping Ligon build the bridge are Coast Guard volunteers, from left, John Mitchell, Henry James, James Hill and Eric Quamme; father-and-son duo Dan and Henry Moore; and (not pictured) division technology coordinator Bill Vrooman. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Thomas Hunter Middle School science teacher Jerry Ligon wants his seventh grade students to really get the science he’s dishing out daily in the classroom. He knows the value of hands-on experience, and he works tirelessly to offer his kids something they can see and feel and, perhaps, taste.

With that in mind, he set out a year or so ago to create an outdoor classroom right on the school grounds, and now he’s pretty close to having the first leg of a nature trail completed. Local Boy Scouts recently cleared about a quarter mile of trail through the woods surrounding the school, and this week, with the help and expertise of a crew from the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Milford Haven and several local volunteers, Ligon was able to build a bridge over a large outfall ditch near the beginning of the trail.

Ligon plans to leave the environment along the trail as natural as possible to highlight what nature has to offer locally—wild blackberries; sycamore, maple, and oak trees; wax myrtle bushes—but he plans to help nature along a bit, as well, planting cherry trees and blueberry bushes so people can eat as they stroll the pathway.

Some of the debris that’s cleared from the path by Boy Scout volunteers will be used to make habitat for animals, and there’s already a fenced natural reclamation area where students can see what will grow naturally if humans just keep their hands off. Ligon even likes the idea of students passing by a decades-long trash pile that lies near the trail, so he can show them the old way people disposed of their unwanted goods.

In addition to outdoor classrooms created by seating on the three bridges that will eventually pass over various parts of the outfall ditch, Ligon would like to someday have a small amphitheater-style classroom, with earthen berms for seating.