Having been in Girl Scouts since kindergarten, current Eastern Regional High School student Megan Tracey already had an appreciation for the outdoors and nature while attending Voorhees Middle School.
It wasn’t, however, until she reached seventh-grade social studies, taught by David Thompson, that she saw the potential to make a worthwhile difference in the community around her.
“He’s the only reason that I came to know that the trail even existed,” said Tracey. “The first day he talked about the trail, he actually took our class out to it to see it.”
Her project, Blazing Trees, sought to help better document and clear the Viking Trail behind VMS that connects to the Stafford Trail and Eastern Regional High School.
Earlier this month, Tracey received word that she had received a Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest possible honor for middle school-age Girl Scouts, due to her work on the project.
During her project, Tracey spent more than 80 hours outside of school to document more than 20 different types of trees that line the trail and replace damaged or lost trail markers, while also updating the club’s website online to better publicize it and make it more well known around Voorhees.
The club’s responsibilities include doing some of what Tracey was able to accomplish, while also clearing the current path and continuing to work on finishing additional trail paths currently underway. The club, according to Thompson and Tracey, started years ago after student interest sparked its inception.
“I quite enjoyed the history of the trail the more that Mr. Thompson talked about it, in that a bunch of students banded together to pave the way for that trail,” said Tracey.
According to Thompson, he had regularly talked with students in his classes about the lack of hiking trails around Voorhees. After enough of his students asked why he didn’t try to change that, he met with township officials and started the club that made the trail through township land behind Voorhees Middle School.
Thompson served as Tracey’s project advisor, while also serving as the Trailblazers Club advisor at VMS since its inception. In seeing her drive throughout the project, Thompson says he hopes to see more students like Tracey in the future look to make an impact on the trail and community.
“It’s kind of like a continuing legacy with the trail right now that we’re seeing going on with it. Megan’s project is one of the first projects that we ever had done back there,” said Thompson. “We have hers, which is really in-depth in terms of the trees that she was able to catalog, and we have a Boy Scout Eagle Project going on now as well. I would love to see more of that in the future.”
Tracey said that, through the project, she hoped to be able to better educate those at in the club, at VMS and in the community about the environment and trees behind Voorhees Middle School.
“I wanted to be able to help people know that it existed,” said Tracey. “This is something interesting that parents and their kids could even do better.”
Earlier this year, Tracey also held a hoagie sale as her days at VMS came to an end to benefit the club, donating two shovels and four cans of spray paint to help better identify the trails.
More information and the updated website for the Trailblazers Club can be found at https://www.voorhees.k12.nj.us/Page/80013.