Cuyahoga Valley National Park & The Countryside revisted

by | Aug 4, 2021 | NE Ohio in the News

Executive Arrangements’ quarterly continuing ed outings for staff members, lovingly called EA University, took us on an exploration of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. And, while inclement weather (and not COVID) forced the meeting to be virtual instead of at Boston Mills Visitor Center, there was a lot to learn, and we wanted to share this great info with you.

Staffers learn a lot about Cuyahoga Vallery National Park.

Our hosts were:

  • Pam Barnes, Community Engagement Supervisor & Public Information Officer, Cuyahoga Valley National Park,  and
  • Tracy Emrick, CEO, Countryside

First, Pam asked us to consider why, with more than 400 parks in the National Park system, is Cuyahoga Valley National Park the 7th most visited park in the country? 

  • No gated entrances – just drive in from multiple access points from a half dozen communities – which encourages access
  • No admission fee, unlike most of the national park system
  • close proximity to urban areas (Cleveland/Akron and suburbs) makes it a neighborhood park for many VS a vacation destination

It was also fun to hear that Lisa Petit was recently named the newest Deputy Superintendent of CVNP, as well as two additional sites; James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, and the First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton. BRAVO for returning to Greater CLE/AKR  to share your love of the outdoors.
In 2024, Cuyahoga Valley National Park will hit a milestone birthday of 50 years. Doesn’t it make you proud that a river valley that was once so scarred and polluted by heavy industry and neglect is such a beautiful green oasis today? And this is Ohio’s ONLY national park, with 33,000 acres offering a lovely blend of rolling hills, waterfalls, and valleys to explore on fabulously maintained trails.
New features to explore:

  • Boston Mills Visitor Center, Peninsula – the  new central visitor center for the whole park, with a great gift shop, bathrooms, and Rangers with maps to guide your way (even have fun scavenger hunt lists for kids, geocaching coordinates, and stamps for the national park’s passport)

    Boston Mills Visitor Center – photo courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • Canal Exploration Center, Valley View – in a building that was once a tavern, a general store, a personal residence, and now a park visitor center that tells the story of how the Ohio & Erie Canal shaped the region and the national park
  • interactive park map – to help plan your next visit

Most of us have walked the crushed rock Towpath Trail that hugs the former canal, but our staff members shared a few more of their FAVORITE HIKING TRAILS:

Then Tracy Emrick shared Countryside’s unique role in our national park. When small family farms began to disappear from the landscape, Countryside was created to find families that wanted to farm IN the National Park and promised to connect those farmers to buyers so they could make a living doing what they loved. How cool is that? Today, they have almost a dozen small farms in the park, including:

Countryside is the marketing & organizing force behind two dynamic farmer’s markets to create the link between the farmers and their customers, including:

Howe Meadow Farmer’s Market – photo courtesy of Countryside

  • Howe Meadow 1,500 shoppers come to this farmer’s market every Saturday from visitors come every Saturday, May- October (9:00 am – 12Noon) with 50 vendors, live music, and a dog-friendly Yappie Hour from 11-12!
  • Curbside Farmer’s Market at Old Trail School offers pick-up from pre-ordered items on select Saturdays all year long.

Countryside helped create a structure so that all the vendors at 12 farmer’s markets in 4 counties can accept SNAP & WIC for payment to encourage low-income families to buy fresh, locally grown foods to support the social justice mission of their non-profit. Brilliant!
Countryside runs a New Farmer Academy, a multi-year program that creates paid career pathways for interns through classroom-style education in the principles of sustainable agriculture, technical training, business, and financial planning, and supportive working relationships with beginning/mentor farmers. Training potential farmers, how cool is that?
So much is happening in our national park to make you proud…..and Executive Arrangements works hard to stay on top of everything a newcomer could explore or experience. If your organization/company could use EA on your talent attraction team (80% success rate wooing even very reluctant candidates, just saying!), call us at 216.231.9311.