Midwest Training at Dunes Learning Center: Day 1

 Fresh Tracks participants explore the Herrick Lake Forest Preserve by canoe on the first day of the Midwest Regional Training. 

Fresh Tracks participants explore the Herrick Lake Forest Preserve by canoe on the first day of the Midwest Regional Training. 

Since the very first Fresh Tracks program, the outdoors have been an integral part of the experience, an opportunity for people from different cultural communities to connect in beautiful natural settings, to explore beaches, forests, and lakes, and to try new activities together.

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Today we continued that tradition as the third Fresh Tracks regional training of 2018 began with an excursion to the Herrick Lake Forest Preserve outside of Chicago, where participants, staff, and trainers were welcomed by a hand drum song performed by Chi-Nations Youth Council members AJ Pochel and Winfield WoundedEye.

After bonding over pizza, the Fresh Tracks crew explored the lake and woods - some on foot, others by kayak and canoe - as they quickly built a community that will be working side-by-side over the next three days to build cultural competency and interpersonal leadership skills to drive positive change in the places they live. The journey continues at the Dunes Learning Center, in the heart of the Indian Dunes National Lakeshore, one of the most ecologically diverse places in North America.

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Later that evening, Fresh Tracks was greeted by Paul Labovitz, Superintendent of the Dunes Learning Center, home to Fresh Tracks for the coming weekend. Superintendent Labovitz spoke to the participants about growing up in the inner city with no connection to nature. He shared a story about how the simple act of catching a lizard changed his life, hooking him on nature, cultivating a desire to be outside all the time, and setting him on a path that led to a career in the National Park Service spanning more than thirty years (and counting).

That’s the sign of an amazing Fresh Tracks day - cultural sharing, outdoor exploration, and pathways to leadership. And we’re just getting started!