From the Kids’ Perspective – Share the Trails Program Celebrates 7 Years of Teaching Ferguson County Youth

The below article was written by Joseph (age 10) and Morgan Feist (age 12) after attending the Share The Trails Program with their Mother and NOHVCC staff person Laura Feist.  Reaching young audiences is critical – both to share safe and responsible practices, and to ensure the future of our sport.  NOHVCC is excited to have such energetic and capable youth ambassadors in our extended family.  We hope you will enjoy the article and take from it that education can be effective as well as create lifelong emissaries for responsible recreation. 

By Morgan and Joseph Feist

This past week we had the privilege to attend the Share The Trails Program in Lewistown, Montana with our mom, Laura Feist, NOHVCC’s Executive Assistant. This program was held at the Fergus County Fairgrounds and taught kids in 6th and 7th grades the importance of Share the Trails and how to be a good outdoor enthusiast. While we get to go out on the trails during the summer, we didn’t realize how much knowledge we actually lacked until that day.

This event had volunteers from the Judith Basin County Horseman, MT Fish Wildlife and Parks, Fergus County Weed District, Little Belts Snowmobile Club, MT Farmers Union, MT BLM, Fergus County Search and Rescue, and numerous other volunteers. The day was broken into 7 stations with 10-15 kids in each group. We learned about leave no trace, bear awareness, weed education, avalanche safety and first aid – what we need for a great and safe outdoor experience.

While our parents preach to us about safety while enjoying OHV’s and being outdoors, we now have a new appreciation for why. Being in the outdoors and being on a motorized piece of equipment could turn scary or even tragic in a matter of moments and being prepared is something us at 10 and 12-years old never really thought of. While I, Joseph, have fallen and gotten hurt riding my dirt bike, I never realized that maybe having splints and bandages nearby was a necessity that I should not take lightly. And while I, Morgan, have negotiated a turn too fast and have nearly lost control of my four-wheeler learned that all those weeds I ended up in could potentially be dangerous and cause larger problems for those trying to maintain a good environment in the outdoors.

We learned that being a good steward towards those who are also recreating helps everyone get along and keep an open dialogue between people is a good thing. Our parents have raised us always to respect others and animals but this taught us that just because we are on something motorized doesn’t mean we have the right of way. Turning our OHV off and allowing hikers, mountain bikers, and horseman to go by and tell them what we have seen is something everyone should count on. Discussion of what or who is on the trail behind us could save a life or potentially help someone else.

While we have always been told to clean up our area of all debris and the Pack it In Pack It Out moto, we learned that not everyone has that same mentality and we can help by educating our friends and others that picking up a piece of trash on the trail can help everyone around us.

While both Joe and me complain about having to be dressed like its cold outside in 90-degree weather while riding – it is for our own safety and helps us make it back in one piece. Wearing a helmet, goggles, gloves, long-sleeved shirt, pants and over-the-ankle boots help protect our growing bodies from scratches and other potential hazards. We should be happy that if a tree branch decides to reach out and scrape across our arms we won’t be worried about the blood and potential infections. Scratches and broken bones may still happen, but we feel better now knowing why our Mom and Dad tell us all the time to be prepared.

We can’t wait to share our new knowledge with those we meet on the trail this year.

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