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Notes from the trail:
Morgan Willett

More than Just a Trail

Morgan: loves volunteers and hates litter. 

I have always loved being outside. Although I wouldn’t be someone you might consider “outdoorsy”. The way I love the outdoors is through walks, casual bike rides, smiling at blooming flowers and trees, and taking care of those plants and trees. The Elizabeth River Trail is unique in that it offers so much for so many people, whether or not you are “outdoorsy”. That is why it is so important to me to take care of the trail, especially the green spaces around it. While there is plenty of beauty to be found in an urban environment, green spaces are like a breath of fresh air, a moment of calm among the chaos.

From trail tours and group rides to beautification and partner events, there truly is something for everyone. That to me is the real beauty of the trail. But, all of those events, tours, and projects aren’t possible without volunteers. Working with volunteers is a highlight of my job and ERT volunteers really feel like a community. All of these wonderful people with different backgrounds, skills, and interests coming together, because they appreciate the trail, is inspiring.


April is quite a busy month for the ERT, but an exciting one. Not only is it Earth Month, but also Volunteer Appreciation Month. There is a lot to celebrate and appreciate! I am so grateful for volunteers. They are an important connection between the work of the Foundation and the community. With their close connection to the trail, volunteers provide valuable feedback and insight that helps us improve our programs, outreach, and the trail. Plus, we literally couldn’t do our work without them.

Celebrate Trails Day, on April 22, was a great example of why we need volunteers. With their help, we installed a Little Free Library, and a raised garden bed, and planted six trees. My hope is that they now have a sense of connection to the people they worked with as well as this new little pocket park at the corner of Park Ave and Lovitt Ave.

The trail goes through parks, gardens, and neighborhoods and follows a constantly changing waterfront. It has kayak launches, playgrounds, a fitness course, bike repair stations, public art, and more. Whether you prefer the built environment or green spaces, the trail has something to offer. Want to take a book somewhere with a nice view and plenty of trees? There are lots of options. Want to enjoy the natural world or the bustle of urban life? Want to get involved with a community of volunteers? You can find it all on the trail! It’s a unique and wonderful thing to experience both the urban and natural environment in a single moment and place.

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Earth Month and Volunteer Appreciation Month may be ending, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop caring. Taking care of the green spaces we have with plants and trees will always be important to help us reconnect with nature and each other. Our volunteers will continue to make what I love to do possible. The ERT is the intersection of the urban and natural environment. To keep it and our community thriving, we have to work to protect the land we live on and support the natural world around us. The trail is intimately connected with the environment, the people and communities it serves, and the people who work to make it an inclusive, connected, and resilient trail.

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