Mount Aloysius Interim President Dr. John Mills came to the region last summer and was astounded at the natural beauty of the area. “Opportunities to be outside in nature are everywhere,” said Mills – a catch and release fly-fisherman. “And we are delighted to find business and community leaders excited to look at the region with new eyes, and a willingness to actively develop more ways to enjoy the abundant natural resources that exists right in our own back yard.”
Recent discussions at the level of the area’s chambers of commerce and even local panel discussions involving businesses that cater to outdoor enthusiasts have mirrored the thinking of leaders at Mount Aloysius College. That momentum has moved the College to focus on encouraging students to engage with the region’s natural world in ways that promote health, creativity, education and conservation.
With hundreds of new fresh faces planning on making Mount Aloysius and the southern Allegheny Mountains their home for the next two to four years; the College’s Orientation Committee has partnered with local outdoor businesses to help students literally step outside.
Dr. Mills noted that the College’s efforts to focus the attention of incoming students to the area’s natural beauty were helped by partnering with great people willing to commit the resources of their organizations to help out.
“Over the past several months we’ve met with some fine people who continue to be enormously helpful,” said Dr. Mills. “They include folks like Erik McClintick of Ebensburg’s Pour on Center, an avid cycling enthusiast; Mr. Dirk Johnson from Ebensburg’s Young People’s Community Center; Mike Cook from the Benscreek Canoe Club; outdoor expert Ryan Swope, Mr. Chad Gonkovic who runs Johnstown’s Coal Tubin’ enterprise; and Ian Smith from SurfSup in New Kensington, Pa.”
Mills noted also that the College’s efforts owe much to the help and encouragement from both the City of Johnstown and the Ebensburg Chamber.
On Saturday, August 25th ─ first-year Mount Aloysius students will be introduced to cycling, hiking, river tubing, kayaking, and stand up paddle-boarding. And they won’t have to go far at all.
Using the expertise and equipment of Ebensburg’s Young People’s Community Center (YPCC), managed by Mr. Dirk Johnson; the day’s first expedition will head out to Ebensburg’s trail head of The Ghost Town Trail.
“The Ghost Town Trail is a tremendous year-round resource,” added Mr. Eric McClintick, an avid cyclist and outdoors enthusiast who manages Ebensburg’s Pour on Center. “This storied Trail continues to expand thanks to hundreds of volunteers,” he said. “It serves hikers, cyclists and cross–country skiers. We’ll organize a group of cyclists to take a three-hour ride to Dilltown on Saturday morning.”
Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Jane Grassadonia, herself a tri-athlete, noted that a second group will take on a paddle-board challenge at the Wilmore Dam. “We’ve partnered with Mike Cook, a local kayaking expert with the Benscreek Canoe Club, Ian Smith at SurfSup who will help us with paddle-boarding, and we’ll also work with an amateur botanist who will talk about the area’s flora and tell us what not to touch,” she said.
A third option for the Mount Aloysius freshmen will be a hike on the John P. Saylor Trail in Ogletown, Pa. Local outdoor expert Ryan Swope will lead a group on a hike through the bog and boulder-trail, ending at Wolf’s Rocks. Swope will provide basic safety and first aid information, hiking tips and review appropriate gear.
In the afternoon, Mount Aloysius students will gather at Johnstown’s Greenhouse Park for a group tubing float. The experience will be managed by Mr. Chad Gonkovic and his Coal Tubin’ Company.
The Mount Aloysius College Outdoor portion of their 2018-2019 Orientation Program will conclude Saturday evening with a barbecue organized by Eric McClintick of Ebensburg’s Pour On Center. That event will take place back at Greenhouse Park.
“This is a first trek out,” added Dr. Mills. “Going forward we envision many more opportunities to enjoy this area’s abundant natural resources in ways that will enrich the lives of all of us who continue to discover them today, and in a manner that protects and preserves this beauty for generations to come.” Mills added, “We believe that this kind of education goes to the heart and ethos of Mount Aloysius College, and engages us even deeper into the fabric of this wonderful community.”
For more information about the College contact the Admissions Department at (814) 886-6383 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.