By Elyria Rose Little, SCA Alum and Alumni Council Secretary

Eighteen years ago, I was about to join my first SCA backcountry trail crew. This year, for Earth Day, I co-led a volunteer trail day in an ecological restoration project at Cleveland Metroparks, where I work on the Trails team. 

Elyria pictured above on the left

Several other SCA alumni led our volunteers alongside me – in fact, every one of our leaders on this project is an SCA alum. Each of us followed our own path to get to this project, and each of our stories is worth hearing. But today, I want to share a little slice of mine.

The project itself was pretty straightforward: to restore several social trails that were causing a good deal of erosion to steep hillsides in a very popular area. Planting trees, disguising the old paths with brush and logs, and having a great day in the woods; useful and also fun. 

And then, four days after leading this project, I had surgery scheduled. It was a relatively simple surgery, but even simple surgeries carry some risk. And the past few months of figuring out exactly what was wrong and how to fix it have been – or, I should say, *would* have been – incredibly draining and stressful for me. 

Instead, here I was a few days before surgery, and I wasn’t worried about it. I wasn’t caught up in stories about how surgery might affect my mobility, or my longterm health, or any of that. Instead, I started thinking about how to make this service project an effective, rewarding, fulfilling event for our volunteers. I also started thinking about the weather, and if there are any supplies I haven’t thought of that we might be able to use. I thought about how much I look forward to doing this for another decade or three or four.

And, I thought about how I can possibly thank SCA for connecting me to so many incredible people, and so many incredible places, over the last 18 years. 

With the help of a team of volunteers, we were able to plant 25 trees, and restore nearly 1,500 square feet at the top and bottom of a steep, badly eroded bootleg trail. Despite muddy conditions that made every step a challenge, volunteers and staff worked together, forming a line up the trail to move hundreds of pounds of logs and brush onto the top and bottom of the trail.

There’s more work to be done restoring the middle, settling more logs in to slow the flow of water, but thanks to our work, no more human feet will contribute to the erosion while the trail starts to heal. A huge thank-you to everyone who made this possible!

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