Now Presenting: Brushy Fork Nature Coalition

by Chase Denny

There is a new kid on the block, folks! Berea College is proud to present the newly established organization known as the Brushy Fork Nature Coalition (BFNC). Student-led and student established group with the purpose of engaging students, faculty, staff, and community members. The BFNC plans to do this through opportunities that prove to be service-oriented, educational, and beneficial to the environment. The mission of the Brushy Fork Nature Coalition is to clean, maintain, and restore Brushy Fork’s Forest & Trails in order to provide an educational and recreational setting that offers students an opportunity to learn about the environment, wildlife, sustainability, and the outdoors. Berea College Sophomore Hunter McDavid is the founder and coordinator of the Brushy Fork Nature Coalition. Working alongside Hunter as the advisor for this coalition is the Forestry Outreach Center’s own Wendy Warren. This is an exciting development for nature lovers, those going into a nature related profession, and/or anyone that is interested in the beautiful scenery Brushy Fork has to offer. Brushy Fork is located right behind the Alumni Building at Berea College and is home to many beautiful sights

and some wonderful hiking trails. Over the years the trails and trail signs have experienced harsh climate and disrespectful treatment resulting in a lot of harm to Brushy Fork. With these things in mind the BFNC plans to have trail clean up events, restoration of the trail signs, and much more. Founder Hunter McDavid felt as if Brushy Fork could be so much more than just a mountain behind campus. When asked about why Hunter is so passionate about restoring Brushy Fork his response was:

My passion for restoring Brushy Fork comes from the natural restoration it has provided for me in the darkest time I had in my life. Last year I went through many hardships, I relied on my hikes and nature walks through Brushy Fork’s forest and trails to help me rid my mind of stress, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Whenever I feel down, my first move is to head to Brushy Fork. In a way, it kept me alive in the hardest moments I’ve ever endured in my life. Now I feel that it’s only right for me to return the favor.

Not only is the Brushy Fork Nature Coalition working to bring together students under the common cause of restoring such a beautiful piece of land, but it is also working to bring together various departments on campus. Founder Hunter McDavid has been working closely with many departments around campus such as Berea College Public Safety, Berea College Administration, the Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service, and of course the Forestry Outreach Center. The BFNC also works with various members of the Berea, KY community in this effort and is therefore working to promote a unified sense of community.

For students who are interested in learning more and getting notifications about meeting times and locations, follow the Brushy Fork Nature Coalition on B-Linked. For anyone else who is interested in learning more on how to be active and make a difference by joining the BFNC, you can contact BFNC coordinator Hunter McDavid at mcdavidh@berea.edu and BFNC advisor Wendy Warren at warrenw@berea.edu.

Why Are We Building a Bridge?

Chase Denny                                                 

Why do we ever build bridges? Sure, we build bridges to travel over water so we can take our fancy cars from place to place or so we don’t get our feet wet when we need to cross a creek. Although these functions are very helpful, I do not believe these are the most important uses for a bridge. Bridges can be so much more than some concrete or some wood we use so our hiking boots stay dry. Bridges connect places and more importantly, bridges can connect people. They can help establish entire communities from nothing or repair longstanding communities that are on the brink of falling apart. This is why we are building a bridge through our work here at the Forestry Outreach Center (FOC).

When I was growing up in West Virginia, I was very active in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). I started as young as you were allowed to start and stayed as long as they would let me. Through many camp outs, hikes, car rides to campouts, and community service projects, I noticed that I had made a special connection with my peers, and I couldn’t quite understand how or why that happened. As the years flew by and I grew older and more mature in my scouting experience, I began to realize that this “special connection” was the community I had built through scouting. It was so mesmerizing to me that something like this could happen so fast. Some more time went by and I ultimately earned the rank of Eagle Scout and left my little old troop to come to Berea College. Fortunately for me, I never left what I learned in those many years and the lesson that sticks with me the most is how important a community can be.

When I came to Berea College, I knew I had to find some way to purse my passion for community that I developed through scouting, and what better way to do that than through the same outlet I utilized while I was in scouting: trees. Very recently I was welcomed onto the team at the Forestry Outreach Center, and I was given the option to pick a project I would like to work on this year. I knew this was my opportunity to build a bridge, but I was not sure how to do it. As I was hiking to West Pinnacle on a very sunny day, an idea hit me like the heat had been doing for about a mile. I knew that I could utilize the Boy Scouts of America to help me build a bridge and repair a small Kentucky community that seems to have a deep divide between traditional conservative values and newfangled liberal arts education.

As this blog is being written, the Forestry Outreach Center is in the process of establishing connections with the leadership of the BSA of Kentucky to host a major event for local scouts in Berea, KY and the surrounding communities. Now what is the lesson in all of this? Why did you just read a blog with a misleading title from a college student who you don’t know? My best guess is that you’re interested in construction of bridges in this beautiful forest. If that is the case, rest easy knowing that the only bridges we are building at the moment is one to better this community for years to come. If that lesson isn’t good enough for you then here is another lesson: bridges are much easier to build than engineers think. All you need are some trees, a passion, and a little bit of help from those around you.