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Over $60,000 Awarded to Connect Appalachian Ohioans with Nature

Twelve Organizations Receive Funding Through
Environmental Stewardship Grant Opportunit

Nelsonville, OH – The Environmental Stewardship Pillar of Prosperity at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) has awarded over $60,000 in grant awards to support public and nonprofit organizations in their work to connect Appalachian Ohioans to nature.

“We were inspired by the ideas and passion that shined through each of these projects focused on connecting more of Appalachian Ohio’s people with the region’s many natural treasures,” said FAO’s President & CEO Cara Dingus Brook. “We look forward to all the ways these efforts will help more of the region’s people connect with the benefits of nature and encourage greater appreciation of all our region has to offer.”

This inaugural grant round of FAO’s Environmental Stewardship Pillar of Prosperity was made possible through the support of many partners, including American Electric Power, the American Electric Power Foundation, and the American Electric Power Ohio Foundation, Ohio CAT, and Nicolozakes Trucking and Construction.

Twelve organizations received funding through the Environmental Stewardship Pillar’s inaugural grant round.

The Athens Conservancy received funding to support the Mary Beth Zak Lohse Preserve in Athens County. Funding will allow the conservancy to extend the preserve’s trail system, add an informational/educational kiosk, and work with community partners to enhance enjoyment of the natural world.

The Buckeye Trail Association received funding to increase the accessibility of Tecumseh Lake in Perry County. Specifically, funds will support road signs to help direct people to the Tecumseh Lake Trail System, a kiosk box for map brochures and trail management, signs to guide hikers, and a crosswalk and stop signs at the nearby highway that will allow hikers to reach the park safely.

The Captina Conservancy received funding to open 2.5 miles of hiking trails at Rock River Refuge, a 220-acre scenic property at the border of Belmont, Monroe and Noble counties that has not previously been accessible to the public. Funding will support safe and convenient access to the hiking trails, educational signs, and benches to allow visitors a chance to reflect on the beauty around them.

City of Steubenville Parks and Rec received funding to enhance the accessibility of Beatty Park in Jefferson County. Funds will allow the department to purchase and install picnic tables and benches along the park’s Orange Trail, providing opportunities to rest and enjoy the beauty of the park.

The Hocking Soil and Water Conservation District received funding to help visitors appreciate and access the Forest Friends Trail at Bishop Educational Gardens in Hocking County, which also attracts visitors from Athens, Jackson, Perry, and Vinton counties. Funding will support the creation of a natural hiking and play area, featuring a small outdoor theater, benches along the trail, and opportunities to engage the senses and play in the varying natural areas.

Ironton in Bloom received funding to enhance access to Storms Creek, a unique preserved creek with back water from the Ohio River and a natural forest area in Lawrence County. Funding will support the clean-up of nearly one acre adjacent to Moltons Field Park, as well as the addition of sidewalks, handicapped ramps, a canoe launching ramp into the creek, seating, and railings to protect those using the area.

The Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District received funding to complete and open a trail that will allow access to scenic, natural areas at Quaker Ridge Arboretum & Nature Trails in Jefferson County. Funding will support the construction of a fence to provide a safety barrier in steep areas.

Kingsville Public Library received funding to enhance its existing backyard gardens by adding educational materials, such as signs focused on plant identification, a chalkboard for artistic exploration, a rain wheel, and maps of natural areas. Funding will support the construction of a fence around the park, which will serve as a canvas for the installation of these various interactive elements in Ashtabula County.

Meigs Primary School received funding to install a Book Walk at the school’s nature trail. A book walk is an outdoor adventure that combines the excitement of reading picture books with the pleasures and benefits of nature. A picture book is taken apart and then the pages placed in weather resistant podiums along a nature trail to be read while hiking along the path.

The Muskingum County Library System received funding to design and construct StoryWalk® trails at scenic locations in Muskingum County. The trails feature reading stations, which guide visitors through stories page-by-page.

The Norma Johnson Conservation Center received funding to support drainage improvements along the Johnson Loop Trail, which traverses 86.5 scenic acres of open fields and woodland habitats. The trail is located in Tuscarawas County and attracts visitors from surrounding communities, including from Holmes, Harrison, Guernsey, and Carroll counties. Drainage improvements will enhance the navigability and accessibility of the trail.

The Scio Development Committee, Inc. received funding to support the design and installation of educational signs along the Connotton Creek Trail. The trail is located in Harrison County and also attracts visitors from surrounding communities in Carroll, Tuscarawas, Jefferson, and Belmont counties. Funding will enhance observation and appreciation of points of interest along the trail, such as rock formations and wildlife habitats.

Funding was awarded through the inaugural grant round of the Environmental Stewardship Pillar, one of five Pillars of Prosperity launched by FAO to create deep, lasting, and transformational change across all areas critical to quality of life: Arts & Culture, Community & Economic Development, Education, Environmental Stewardship, and Health & Human Services. These five Pillars are supported by FAO’s I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund.

To learn more about this grant opportunity and apply today, visit To learn more about the Environmental Stewardship Pillar or make a gift, visit or contact FAO at 740.753.1111.

About the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) is a regional community foundation serving the 32 counties of Appalachian Ohio. A 501(c)(3) public charity, the Foundation creates opportunities for Appalachian Ohio’s citizens and communities by inspiring and supporting philanthropy. For more information about FAO, visit, follow FAO on Facebook at, or follow FAO on Instagram @FDNforAppalachianOhio.