Tails on Trails brings dogs to campus

JACOB MADDEN, News Editor | [email protected]

The UNI community had the opportunity to walk dogs, fly kites and spend some time outdoors this past Friday at AmeriCorps’ second Tails on Trails event. The event was organized in partnership with NISG, UNI Men’s Rugby, the Green Project, Sigma Gamma Epsilon — the earth science honor society — and the Geography Club. The event also featured shelter dogs provided by the Cedar Bend Humane Society.

According to Bobbi Minard, the AmeriCorps project coordinator who began planning the event, there weren’t any maps of the trail system at UNI, so her first job was mapping the trails. The trails are located just north of the Wellness and Recreation Center (WRC) and stretch to the west of the WRC pond as well.

“I started work in October, and somebody brought to my attention that the trails here at UNI — nobody uses them — students don’t know about them,” Minard said. “So, I said ‘How can I get people out there?’ I got these events set up and I contacted student organizations to see who would be interested in hosting something. I kind of pitched the ideas and they picked the one they wanted to do. They took ahold of a lot of the logistics.”

Max Tensen, a freshman math education major, is a member of UNI Men’s Rugby, who hosted the event.

“We owe a lot of this to [Minard] and the whole AmeriCorps team. They did a lot of the planning, but we were essential in the marketing aspects of it,” Tensen said. “I’d say that men’s rugby has a bigger outreach on campus, so we were able to reach a pretty diverse group of people here and get a lot of people out.”

Men’s rugby also made trail signs to help direct those who are walking the dogs.

“[Tails on Trails] has gone better than we ever could have expected,” Tensen said. “It’s an amazing event today and I’m really proud of how it’s turning out.”

Senior leisure, youth and human services major J.D. Waybill and junior math education major Micah Otterbein said that playing with the dogs in the union is nice, but that getting the outdoor experience with bigger dogs is rewarding in a different way, especially two weeks before finals.

“I think it’s great; the timing is perfect,” Otterbein said. “There’s always stuff going on during finals week and leading up to it, so it’s nice to have something a little further out.”

Lily Conrad, a junior environmental science major, is president of the Green Project, a student organization whose focus is on environmental education and sustainability. According to Conrad, the organization is closely tied to the Panther Plot, which is a garden maintained by the Green Project near the Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE). The Green Project provided kites for participants to fly while waiting their turn to walk a dog.

“In the off months, when the garden is covered in snow and it’s not quite ready to be worked yet, we collaborate with other student orgs on campus to host discussions about campus sustainability and taking of the environment and our natural resources,” Conrad said.

Conrad also mentioned the annual harvest fest, which is held every fall in the Panther Plot, where students can pick flowers and harvest vegetables for free. According to Conrad, the event is usually in the first week or two of the school year.

“I love that [Tails on Trails] is on the trails,” Waybill said. “We’re not walking around campus or anything.”

Waybill also added that the kite flying was a good idea and provided another outdoor activity for those who were waiting their turn for dog walking.

Minard said that the Tails on Trails event held last Friday will be the last one unless someone in AmeriCorps decides to continue the project next year.

“It feels so good that we have so many people out here,” Minard said. “A big shout out to Cedar Bend [Humane Society]. They were willing to work with us right away, and, other than that, it has been a lot of fun. And you can tell students that couldn’t make it out today, that Cedar Bend can always use volunteers to go out and walk the dogs.”