News & Stories

STEP-UP Interns Help Improve Wirth Park Trails

This summer the Loppet Foundation partnered with the City of Minneapolis’s STEP-UP summer work program to hire a crew of four 14-to-15-year-old North Minneapolis boys to install erosion controls on the Loppet Ski Trails. Pierre Bishop, Venjoseph Brown, Tyece Howze, and Ligarius Munn worked all summer with supervisor/mentor Jon Miller. The crew prepared the soil, created erosion-control water-bars, and then seeded and applied erosion-control mats on more than 75,000 square feet of trail, profoundly changing the landscape in Theodore Wirth Park.

Ligarius is currently a skier on the Nellie Stone Johnson Ski and Bike Team and Pierre and Venjoseph began participating in the Loppet Foundations’ FastKids mountain bike series this summer. For them, trail work has become personal because they are improving the very trails they use throughout the year. They also learned about event preparation as they cleared downed trees after the June windstorms.

After taking a break for the start of school, the students will be back this October to help lead the Loppet Trails Day volunteer event. Each student will be assigned to lead a crew of volunteers, showing the volunteers how to build water-bars, prepare the soil, and put new erosion-control measures in place.

The program has been a win-win-win-win. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board wins because the ski trails are in better shape, with erosion-control measures helping to prevent any future issues. Theodore Wirth Park is a better place because it has fewer bare soil areas, which create less-than-ideal conditions for park users. And participants in Loppet Foundation events and the public in general have better trails to ski, run, and bike on. Finally, the students themselves have gained important skills as landscapers, as employees, and as leaders in the community.

In addition to the STEP-UP program – which paid the wages for the students – this crew was supported by generous grants from People for Parks and the Pohlad Family Foundation.