Over the past several months, thanks to COVID-19, many of us have found creative ways to get out of the house and stay active, whether on our own or with our loved ones. This has included many of us getting away from the hustle and bustle of work (in our living rooms) and exploring our local parks and trails throughout Greater Baltimore. One of these parks has much more to offer than its more than 16,000 acres of recreational space.
Patapsco Valley State Park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River and includes spaces within Howard and Baltimore Counties with over 200 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. To ensure that the park is well maintained, preserved, and utilized to the best of its ability, The Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park, a nonprofit organization, works to promote stewardship through programming, sustainable recreation, and the preservation and restoration of its natural resources. They do this through a variety of programs such as native tree plantings, a bike repair station and trail head kiosk installations, trail construction and maintenance, and environmental education programming.
You may wonder what this has to do with partnerships at Towson University.
Through Grantwriting in Valued Environments (G.I.V.E.), a BTU Investment project, TU has been partnering with The Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park since the spring of 2012. G.I.V.E., led by Dr. Zosha Stuckey and Dr. Carrie Grant, connects students with nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore/Washington region to support grant research, grant writing, storytelling, and other communication related efforts. The first collaboration between G.I.V.E. and the Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park raised funds for the Hollofield Playspace, the Maryland Park Service’s first fully accessible playground, which opened in 2017 and is accessible to all children and adults, including those with mobility limitations. G.I.V.E. students have also completed successful grant applications to receive funding for outdoor projectors and sound systems for the Patapsco campgrounds, a backdrop for the Scales & Tales program, a variety of park equipment, and a pollinator garden.
Most recently, Greg Lewis, a G.I.V.E. student who has since graduated from Towson University, helped the Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park receive a Maryland Heritage Areas grant to create a mobile interpretive park center. This center, which will be located in a sprinter van, will function as a mobile visitors center, staffed by English and Spanish speaking park rangers to provide a variety of bilingual activities throughout the park and beyond. According to Donald Wecker, Director of Grants for the Friends of Patapsco State Park, the grant application developed by Lewis received the third highest score in the state and the Mobile Interpretive Park Center was chosen as the Maryland Heritage Area’s centerpiece project of the year.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to be able to work with Dr. Stucky, Dr. Carolyn Grant and students like Greg Lewis as we partner finding ways to fund projects and programs at Patapsco Valley State Park.”Donald Wecker, Director of Grants
We look forward to seeing this partnership between the Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park and Towson University’s G.I.V.E. program continue to grow. In the meantime, as you’re looking for ways to enjoy our beautiful state, during COVID-19 and beyond, consider checking out Patapsco Valley State Park and the variety of programs they have to offer.