Virginia Wesleyan University has expanded the walking trails at Wesleyan Woods. The expansion includes a trail that is roughly a mile long, branching off of Norfolk Lane. Norfolk Lane is located just off of College Drive, and it leads to the facilities management center, Lake Taylor and other walking trails on campus.
The new walking trail follows the fenceline of the campus adjacent to I-64. Looping past Lake Taylor, the trail offers the campus community a new way to get exercise and enjoy nature.
Elaine Robbins, a junior Batten Honors College student, uses the Wesleyan Woods trails frequently.
“I like to use the trails for exercise and get some fresh air and it gives me a great opportunity to spend time out in nature while doing so,” Robbins said.
Junior women’s lacrosse player Mikayla Szudera also uses the trails often, both by herself and with her friends on her team.
“I enjoy the trails because it gives me a space to run or walk whenever I’m stressed,” Szudera said. “My team often uses the trails for run tests too as a fun alternative to the track. The addition of the new trails pleases me because now there will be new trails that students can enjoy during the various seasons while feeling safe on campus.”
Other individuals use the trails as a fun activity on campus. Ryan Baldwin, a senior at VWU, uses the trails from time to time because he enjoys hiking in his free time.
“I like to go hiking, especially in areas like Shenandoah National Park and other public places,” Baldwin said. “It is really exciting that the school works hard to provide outdoor trails for the students. I am glad that they have added this new trail and I am excited to check it out.”
Despite the expansion of the Wesleyan Woods, some of the older trails have become overgrown and difficult to use over time.
“Many of the older dirt paths throughout the woods have gotten overgrown,” Baldwin said. “It has gotten to the point that I don’t use some of them because they are difficult to follow. Besides that, the trails are well kept for the most part.”
Virginia Wesleyan has made a commitment to the environment and preserving the natural biodiversity of coastal Virginia. The environmental guiding principles of VWU states that the university has a responsibility to protect and enhance the natural health and biodiversity of local and worldwide ecosystems.
This commitment can be shown through opportunities that allow students to enjoy the nature on campus. UREC, the office for recreation and wellness that is located downstairs in the Batten Student Center, offers outdoor rental equipment that can be taken out on the Wesleyan Woods trails and around the campus.
Sophomore Cara Caruso is a student worker at the UREC office and sees the impact of the trails and access to environmental recreation and education.
“VWU prioritizes student activities through making rentals available for recreational equipment,” Caruso said. “The process is super easy, the only thing you need is your student ID. You can get almost anything from the office including bikes, kayaks, skateboards, and more. The bikes are especially important because they can be taken out onto the trails, like the new one that was just built.”
Expanding the trails at Wesleyan Woods provides the campus community yet another opportunity to enjoy and become educated about the environment. Going forward, the campus community can expect the university to incorporate environmental and social concerns in the decision making, planning and investing decisions. Additionally, VWU states that they intend to promote the University as a “living laboratory” for sustainability.
The VWU website states, “As a learning community located in the rich and unique ecosystems of Coastal Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay watershed, we are committed to promoting and developing the next generation of environmental stewards. The ongoing sustainability efforts of the University reflect a larger commitment to ethical conduct and social responsibility through environmental stewardship and education.”
By Katie Yeager