Scroll Top

Notes from the trail:
It's Not Just 9-5

It’s Not Just 9-5

The thing about working for a nonprofit and a job that is so closely tied to what you care about is that work is not just 9 AM – 5 PM. There are often things we do on the weekends and after work because they either need to get done or we are driven to do them because we love our work and the trail. Even just a walk on the trail for our well-being and exercise morphs into a to-do list and often education. Working or not, Kindra and I find ourselves talking to trail users to help them find their way, to make sure they know they are on the trail so we can tell them how awesome it is, and answer questions about the trail. Of course, my favorite trail topic is the plants and beautification work done thanks to volunteers and community partners.

A lot of time is spent on trail education. Whether that is wayfinding signage, telling the trail’s story, or planting projects, learning is always involved. In May, we partnered with the United Way of South Hampton Roads to install the Born Learning Trail. Along the path leading to, and throughout, Plum Point Park, you’ll find bilingual signage with activities for K-3 learners and their families. The activities invite young learners to explore shapes, sounds, creative thinking, and more, all while being outside in one of the most beautiful spots on the trail.


Outdoor learning isn’t just about the activities, it’s about creating positive connections to the outdoors. We believe that everyone should have safe access to public green spaces, and connecting people with nature helps build support for those spaces. 

Our newest green space, the Pocket Park, has become an important space for trail resilience projects. Last year the space was revitalized with seven new trees and a pollinator garden along with a Little Free Library and community needs pantry. This past April, we installed a covered bench and rain barrel! While also addressing accessibility and shade needs, the covered bench also demonstrates stormwater mitigation and provides water to keep the plants healthy at this mini-park. In August we will have the pleasure of hosting a stop at the Pocket Park during the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Green Infrastructure tour, marrying my two favorite things; Talking about green practices and talking about plants.


There are many environmental stewardship practices on the trail that many may not know about. First, the ERT only plants native plants and trees along the trail, and any space we beautify, we have to maintain, which has been made possible by our Green Team and support from the Norfolk Master Gardeners and Norfolk Parks and Recreation. The recent planting project at the ERT Donor Sculpture by the Pagoda features nearly 200 native perennial plants donated by the Norfolk Botanical Garden, a project that not only enhances the aesthetics of that space but supports our pollinators as well. Later this summer, the Managed Meadow will get an upgrade with educational signage about its history and the important role that area plays in our environment. This space is particularly well suited for education because it supports pollinators, stormwater management, and water filtration. Though there is often litter along the Managed Meadow, that is part of its job. Collect the litter and stormwater, filter the stormwater, and prevent litter from ending up in the river or clogging storm drains.

Thanks to one of our Green Team volunteers, the Plum Point Park kayak launch is hosting oyster cages! Did you know that a single adult oyster can filter about 50 gallons of water per day? Projects like these contribute to reducing pollution in the Elizabeth and Lafayette Rivers, making our group paddles and water-based activities much more enjoyable and helping to bring wildlife back to our area!

Recent Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School graduate, Amber, started a Biocaching project on the trail last year. Biocaching is like a scavenger hunt for animals and is based on the geocaching concept. At a few locations on the ERT, you’ll see signs asking for pictures of wildlife. Using a QR code, you can upload a picture of your wildlife sighting and help continue this project that demonstrates the diversity of wildlife in Norfolk. Over the past year, Amber has received 300 submissions from trail locations that show that wildlife is thriving and some species are returning!

IMG_9082 (1)

Each project, each education opportunity, and each volunteer and supporter drives our passion for the trail and our work. We are nature enthusiasts, advocates for public access to green spaces and safe alternative transportation, and believers in the power of the ERT to be a model trail and its ability to transform the communities it serves. We will continue to make to-do lists while enjoying the trail and looking for any opportunity to share our love of the ERT.

IMG_6837 (1)
IMG_1175 PNG

Related Posts