Good things have been happening in Shawnee recently, and thanks to the initiative of two Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps (AORC) members, it’s going to be easier to find those good things.

Jean Vandervaart and Jon Flinn are AmeriCorps members in the AORC program who were placed with the Buckeye Trail Association, where they’ve been working on projects related to the more than 1,400-mile trail that runs near numerous Trail Towns, including Shawnee. In November, they were working on a grant request to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and were told the average grant is for $5,000, but a few $10,000 grants are awarded.

They decided to aim high, submitting a proposal for $10,000, and were elated when they received word the request had been funded. The money will be used for several projects, including the installation of directional road signs directing visitors to Shawnee’s nearby natural resources, four interpretive signs, a summer youth program, a crosswalk at Tecumseh Lake, bluebird boxes around the lake, and historical interpretive tours.

Shawnee, an historic village in Perry County, is becoming the next destination spot in Southeast Ohio. Within a five-minute walk of Shawnee, there are places to picnic, camp, hunt, hike, fish, bird watch, host educational events, kayak or simply enjoy a natural space. The Buckeye Trail Association and many partner organizations are working to uplift Shawnee to revitalize the community and utilize the natural assets surrounding the town.

“The Buckeye Trail Association is extremely excited to start working on this project in 2021,” Jon says. “Shawnee was declared a Trail Town in 2018, and these small steps will help encourage more visitors to get the most out of their visit to Shawnee.”

“Jon and I decided to focus our project on creating and installing four interpretive signs and gaining funding for a tour guide because they provide informative and fun opportunities for people who’re enjoying the outdoors,” Jean says. “The interpretive signs and upgraded kiosk, along with new brochures, will aid hikers on their adventures through not just the beauty of Southeast Ohio, but the nature and cultural history of the land.”

For more information about the project, contact Jon or Jean. For information about the National Service program, contact Rural Action AmeriCorps Director Shannon Stewart.