$200K grant to make outdoor recreation more accessible in Craftsbury

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CRAFTSBURY COMMON – Sterling College has been awarded a $200,000 community grant from the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC).

The money will go to help establish a public-facing outdoor recreation hub as part of its vision for the Peter Alfond Wellness Center on its campus in Craftsbury.

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The VOREC award largely completes Sterling’s fundraising efforts for the project which will include space for exercise, outdoor recreation themed programming and workshops, an indoor climbing wall, and equipment and bike repair services and rentals on a sliding-scale.

“VOREC’s support of this project is meaningful for both Sterling students and the region at large,” said Christina Goodwin, Vice President for Advancement for Sterling. “The new outdoor recreation hub will provide our Outdoor Education students with deeper learning opportunities while also encouraging more users to access private and public lands by providing the equipment, information, and education that can be the difference between an accessible, safe, and enjoyable experience and a privileged, dangerous, or intimidating one.”

Located at the confluence of three trail systems in Craftsbury Village, the outdoor recreation hub will feature new wayfinding and signage to connect existing local trail systems, publicize regional recreational opportunities, and offer public restrooms and access to drinking water.

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By offering services in a region where rentals and repairs are far and few between, the project helps to satisfy the town of Craftsbury’s desire for more outdoor recreation opportunities for both existing and prospective participants while also alleviating some of the financial burden that comes with equipment-based recreation.

“Our work program gear repair specialists will be able to offer low-cost or free basic bike and gear repairs that will help our community enjoy the outdoors in a safe, more affordable, and enjoyable,” said Josh Bossin, Faculty in Outdoor Education. “As a Work College, Sterling students– our future outdoor educators–will be able to practice their skills as providers and operators of outdoor education programming.” Sterling has been awarding degrees in Outdoor Education since 2000.

In announcing the grant, Governor Phil Scott restated his support for outdoor recreation as an important means for economic recovery and development.

“Vermont’s natural beauty, combined with outdoor recreation opportunities, are economic engines for our state and a driving force for why people visit and live in Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “These grants will help continue to connect trails to downtown centers, develop new recreation assets and promote all we have to offer.”

Construction on the new center is scheduled to begin once the permitting process is complete.

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