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Students travel from Grove City College to spruce up Roaring Run Trail in Kiski Township

| Saturday, March 25, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Grove City College students head to work on the Roaring Run Watershed Trail in Kiski Township on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Grove City College student volunteers equipped with shovels and rakes follow a bike trail through the Roaring Run Trail in Kiski Township on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Grove City College students (from left) Hope Cooksey, 19, of Florida and Brooke Bimber, 19, of Illinois clear leaves and debris along the Roaring Run Trail in Kiski Township on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Grove City College volunteer Joshua Tam of California removes a Catch and Release sign from the footbridge along the Roaring Run Trail in Kiski Township on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Aimie Breznican of Apollo enjoys a run through the Roaring Run Trail in Kiski Township on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

A group of more than 80 students from Grove City College occupied the Roaring Run Watershed in Kiskiminetas Township on Saturday.

Only they weren't there to protest or to make a statement.

On a nearly perfect spring day with no scheduled classes, they were there to work.

For the second year in a row, members of the college's Orientation Board, the group of students tasked with welcoming incoming freshmen to their first semester, volunteered one of their weekend days to help police the miles of trails at Roaring Run Watershed.

The main Roaring Run Trail is about 6.5 miles long, extending from Third Street in Apollo to the Edmon section of Kiski Township along the path of the 1800s Pennsylvania Main Line Canal. There also is the 1.5-mile Rock Furnace Trail that branches off the main trail and follows the Roaring Run creek to Brownstown Road.

The 650-acre Roaring Run Watershed property includes 15 miles of fairly rugged mountain bike and hiking trails, all maintained mostly by the volunteers of the Roaring Run Watershed Association.

But every now and then the association gets an offer it can't refuse.

Like when Emily Fankulewski, senior chair of the Orientation Board, reached out to association board member John Linkes and asked, “would Roaring Run be willing to have approximately 90 volunteers help out around the site on Saturday?”

Linkes said, “come on down!”

The students spent the day clearing the trails of trees downed by winter weather and dredging leaves and debris from trailside drainage ditches. Despite the down-and-dirty work, Fankulewski described the day's labors as an ideal situation.

“It's a huge opportunity for us,” she said.

Fankulewski said the Orientation Board's members schedule a service project every year and that the projects serve two purposes, both as a means of giving back to area communities and as a way to grow closer as a group before they meet next year's freshmen.

“We really get to know each other as an organization, to connect on a deeper level,” she said. “We've found this model is conducive to us being better able to connect with the freshmen.”

Bob Bowman, a member of the Roaring Run Watershed Association's board of directors, praised the students for their hard work.

“They are just an amazing group of hardworking young adults,” he said. “They really represent their college well and they really do work very hard. You can put it into your own words, but I think they are superstars.”

Linkes noted that the students drove for more than an hour and a half to get to Roaring Run, and he said they seemed to really enjoy the work.

Fankulewski said that she fell in love with the Roaring Run Watershed during last year's service project.

“We came here last year with a group of about 40 and I just loved it. These people are great; they are just so great to work with and so friendly,” she said.

According to Roaring Run Watershed Association Vice President Tom Iseman, all of the work the students accomplished couldn't have been done at a better time. Iseman said the association doesn't do much to take in money throughout the year, but one of its biggest events, a 15K run and a 5K run/walk, is less than a month away.

“We get lots of people that offer to help. Some do a little, some do more. These kids do a lot,” Iseman said. “If we didn't get in here and clean out these drainage ditches, the running trails would wash away.”

The Roaring Run Trail Association also sells yearly memberships to help cover the cost of maintaining the park. Individual memberships are $10, and family memberships are $25. A lifetime membership can be purchased for $100, but no membership is required to use the park.

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675 or mmedsger@tribweb.com.

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