The idea four years ago of a garden for students has grown into a large community effort resulting in a Nature Center and trail, pavilion, and garden, all located behind the Amity Elementary Center.

The new Daniel Boone Intermediate Center Nature Center was dedicated on Saturday, April 22, as part of Earth Day 2017 activities.

“I’m thankful for the people who had the vision and raised the money [to build the Nature Center],” said Dane Miller, principal of Amity Elementary Center.

Miller said the visionary for a student garden and the woods trail was elementary teachers Elaine Meinhart and Diane Hefter.

“It started years and years ago at the Amity Primary Center, with the teachers who did Earth Day activities each year with the students, and created a cut-flower garden,” said Miller.

He said that when staff realized that the flower garden would need to be moved to accommodate building expansions and bus driveways, Meinhart, Hefter, and other staff were raising money through fundraisers.

They also received a grant from Lowe’s Home Improvement for the $10,000 project.

“When this all started, I didn’t know how much it meant. We envisioned all of this. It was a struggle,” said Meinhart, referring not only to the work but also to the vandalism that occurred to the garden, trail, and picnic tables.

Teachers worked for three years composting, digging, and shoveling — on in-service days and weekends — to get it up and running.

The Nature Trail was originally conceived by Seth Hayik, as his Eagle Scout project for Boy Scout Troop 597, Amityville.

Other Eagle Scout projects included Willie Beam, who installed drainage and revived the trail; Wally Sheehan, who built the storage shed, and Ryan Henry, who built eight ADA accessible “knockdown” picnic tables for the pavilion area, repaired garden areas, built a railing for the trail’s foot bridge and also built another bridge.

Daniel Boone Intermediate Center Nature Center dedication invitations recognized the following people who made the Nature Center possible: Ed Key, Lenny Smith, Jackie Antolic, Adrienne Evans, Rosemary Skomitz, and Judy Reitz, teachers who cared for the garden; Jenny DeMild, who secured funding to complete and expand the project, and Natalie Bischof and Heidi Fisher, for their expertise with plants and water.

Also recognized were Walt Sheehan, who coordinated the efforts of the Boy Scouts to build new structures; members of Boy Scout Troop 597; students from River Rock Academy who moved the shed to its new location and cleared the trail and garden, to the Daniel Boone PTC, who provided funding for the pavilion pad, and the Amity Elementary Center Community and the Blazer Foundation for pavilion and trail funding.

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