May 8 2019

Nature’s Classroom

Get Out & Explore Your MetroParks with Staff and Volunteer Experts

Yvonne Entingh’s passion for backpacking began with an introductory program hosted by MetroParks. As MetroParks’ outdoor recreation specialists shared their personal adventures on the trails, how-tos and examples of what to pack, her interest continued to grow. Entingh recalled a MetroParks backpacking program that involved a night hike in which she hesitated to participate because she didn’t have confidence on the trails without sunlight. Dozens of MetroParks backpacking programs and miles of local trails hiked later, Entingh has backpacked thousands of miles on some of the country’s most challenging trails.

“Knowledge brings comfort, and the courses people take through MetroParks build knowledge and experience,” said Entingh, who now helps other groups tackle the trails through her outdoor recreation business, A Time to Keep.

Providing the public with hundreds of programs per year, Five Rivers MetroParks introduces people of all ages to new, fun ways to connect with nature. MetroParks’ outdoor recreation, education and conservation staff and volunteer experts empower people to learn new skills and embark on their own life-changing adventures.

“We want to see that spark, that excitement when people learn something new and fall in love with being outdoors,” said Brent Anslinger, MetroParks outdoor recreation program manager. “Whether it’s a little one meeting farm animals for the first time or a family exploring the Twin Valley Trail together, providing experiences that connect people to nature is MetroParks’ mission.”

Five Rivers MetroParks offers programs that provide instruction on a variety of skills, including gardening, outdoor education and recreation, conservation, farming, sustainable living, horseback riding and more. MetroParks also helps program participants put what they’ve learned to practice with hands-on opportunities.

“Often, outdoor experiences require use of equipment, safety considerations and the confidence to apply newly learned skills — which is where we can help,” Anslinger said. “We offer programs that teach the basics, including safety, and we even provide gear for people to borrow.”

On one of her first backpacking excursions with MetroParks, Entingh borrowed gear to trek the Red River Gorge. Next, she found herself getting ready for a MetroParks trip to the Appalachian Trail. She trained for her 27-mile journey by getting her own gear and visiting the Twin Valley Trail and Sugarcreek MetroPark. As she grew more comfortable on the trails, she decided to complete longer solo hikes on trails across the country.

Entingh continues her learning process through progression programs, which expand on basic outdoor recreation skills. Courses in navigation, backcountry cooking and water filtration have been helpful during her backpacking adventures.

“The woman who started the trail is not the same woman who finishes the trail,” Entingh said. “It’s a learning process.”

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