ATHENS, OH Union Local School District in Belmont will be dedicated as a WILD School Site by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife on Wednesday, May, 16 at 6 p.m.

The WILDSchool Site program was established by the ODNR Division of Wildlife in 1994 to encourage schools to take action in order to improve their school yard habitat for wildlife while using the site to learn lessons in the many subjects of their curriculum. Since then, 120 school sites statewide have been certified, with Union Local School District becoming the 121st and the very first in Belmont County.

The high school, middle school, and elementary school are all located on a campus of more than 100 acres. The students and teachers at Union Local have taken the opportunity to use their space to create a fusion Nature and Fitness Trail that is open for public use. A butterfly garden was constructed, and bird feeders and nest box structures were built and placed along the trail. Trees and native shrubs and grasses were planted, and tree identification markers now offer information about popular species along the path. They have also constructed brush piles, established and maintained food plots, and installed a weather station. All of the projects at the site have served as a basis for the various classroom lessons, a main component of the WILD School Sites program.

In addition to the habitat components, the trail also features benches, picnic tables, distance markers, and 10 exercise stations. The entire trail was designed to benefit the students as well as the entire community for educational and recreational purposes.

Immediately following, the Union Local School District Health Advisory Council has invited all members of the community to join in Ohios eighth statewide Healthy Ohio Fitness Walk on the newly dedicated Route UL Nature/Fitness Trail. The challenge to all Ohioans is to collectively walk one-hundred thousand miles on this date. Everyone is invited to participate in a 20-minute, one-mile walk to help reach the goal.