Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ April 2011

Nature Trail Installed at FKES for Eagle Scout Project

Andrew Hickey of Boy Scout Troop 249 gave our community a great gift on March 19.  For his Eagle Scout project, Andrew led the installation of a nature trail at Forest Knolls Elementary School, complete with a stone surface for easy accessibility.

A 10th grader at John F. Kennedy High School, Andrew planned the project and mobilized volunteers young and old to dig out the 250-foot trail and transport 10 tons of crushed stone to the work site.  Roughly 60 people came out to help, including Forest Knolls students and their families.

Andrew Hickey, as part of his Eagle Scout community project, mobilized Kennedy High School Junior Navy ROTC cadets and members of Boy Scout Troop 249 to build a new trail at FKES.

The real power behind the project was Andrew’s Scout Troop 249, which turned out 13 boys to help, and project mentor John O’Donnell, a trail-building expert and frequent adviser to Eagle Scout projects.  Andrew’s fellow Kennedy High School Junior Navy ROTC cadets also gave an impressive showing throughout the day.

“The installation of this nature trail is what we’ve been working toward for two years,” said Clare Nielsen Neal, leader of the “Kids Reforesting Forest Knolls” project that has seen the installation of more than 60 native trees and shrubs on school grounds.  “We’re reclaiming this abandoned area and restoring it to the vibrant oak-hickory forest it once was.  Using the trail, teachers, students, and neighbors will be able to explore the area and learn more about nature.”

Andrew says that he wanted to give back to his elementary school by creating a trail that the students could enjoy.  “I live near the school and look forward to seeing students, friends, and neighbors walking the trail and enjoying nature.”

“Andrew did a great job of seeing this major trail-building project through to completion,” Clare said.  “When I first explored this little forest remnant, I could envision a path that let people get up close to the beautiful old trees on the property.  For me, Andrew and his volunteers have made a dream come true!”

Andrew Hickey stands on the completed nature trail behind Forest Knolls Elementary.

Contributions to the project came from far beyond our neighborhood.  Andrew secured the donation of crushed stone from Aggregate Industries of Greenbelt and equipment from the Home Depot near Cherry Hill Road, Silver Spring.  Costs of the reforestation work have been largely covered by grants from the Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Committee, with additional donations from Maryland Department of Natural Resources/Tree-mendous Maryland; Stadler Nurseries; Earth Sangha Native Plant Nursery of Springfield, Virginia; and Ernst Conservation Seed of Meadville, Pennsylvania.

The reforestation project recently earned the State of Maryland’s “PLANT” — or People Loving and Nurturing Trees — award at the “Gold” level.  A school-wide event is planned for April 28 — a day before National Arbor Day — to bestow the award to school leadership, recognize Andrew’s contribution, and celebrate the trail’s opening.  By that date, it is expected that more trees, shrubs, and flowers will have been planted.

“Restoring our ‘woods’ is a work in progress and will keep getting better and better,” Clare noted.  “Soon, our trail signs will have new information to read, with features written by Forest Knolls students Kelsey Murray, Adrianna Quaide, and Anna Vidergar.  And, we’ll continue to add native plants of all kinds to further beautify the trail area.”

The trail is located near the Forest Knolls athletic field and is easily accessed through the entrance near Hannes Street.

“Please come out and visit!  Better yet, get involved,” said Clare.  “Not everyone can give as much as Andrew has, but all contributions — whether in manpower or financial — are much appreciated.”   ■

   © 2011 NFCCA  [Source:]