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New program offers outdoor adventures

By Jill Erickson

The limestone glades and oak savanna at Rocky Point Glades have been restored and brought back to life by KC WildLands and Bridging the Gap. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Prothonotary Warbler. Photo by Sarah Benal.

This month Heartland Conservation Alliance launched Exploring Roots Summer Adventure Challenge, a new outdoor education program. The challenge accommodates all skill levels. The self-led Challenge helps groups and individuals discover trails, prairies, glades and other wild areas along the Blue River. The June summer adventure at Rocky Point Glades in Swope Park is sponsored by Moosejaw who is providing prizes to all participants who complete an adventure.

The new program is the result of a merger between former nonprofit, Exploring Roots and Heartland Conservation Alliance, allowing the two groups to combine resources, talent and experience to improve the quality of life in communities across the metropolitan area.

“Most Kansas Citians rarely encounter wild places,” said Adam Magers, Founder, Exploring Roots. “Knowing connection to nature is critical to our health, we saw a need to create an organization that serves the community with nature-based programming. I am so proud that over the past five years, more than 90% of our Exploring Roots program participants have reported increased self-efficacy, confidence and an improved sense of well-being.”

At the heart of the new partnership is the love of nature and the desire to help others become stewards of Kansas City’s natural places. Participants will have the whole month of June to explore Rocky Point Glades, but in case of rain, it’s important to let the paths dry so that too many hikers don’t churn up mud and cause erosion.

One way to be a good steward is to make sure the trail is open by checking Urban Trail Co.’s Trail Status page. As the sun returns, you may be tempted to walk on the trail sides to keep your shoes dry, but doing so can loosen the soil and ruin the trail others worked to construct. Being vigilant helps protect the trails and sends a ‘thank you’ to all the organizations that work to provide places like Swope Park for the public.

Both organizations have been working to increase more equitable access to nature for all Kansas Citians and to raise awareness of the benefits nature provides people. Throughout 2020, the two organizations worked to develop a strategy to further serve the Kansas City community together.

“I was so excited about the possibilities when Adam from Exploring Roots first approached me about merging our two organizations,” said Jill Erickson, Executive Director, Heartland Conservation Alliance. “This new program will help us connect more Kansas Citians to important natural areas in our city."

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