WARTBURG — Ten years ago, with funding from a National Park Foundation grant, the Obed Wild and Scenic River launched its “National Park in Your Backyard” program for the sixth grade students of Morgan County.

During the first eight years of the program over 2000 sixth graders participated in the program, but the programs did not occur in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic. The Park is excited to announce that these programs will be held again this year and will be open to current eighth grade students in an effort to reach the students that were missed during the pandemic. Future programs will offer this opportunity to the remaining middle school grades which missed the experience. As in previous years, the opportunity to participate in this program will be extended to students that are homeschooled or who attend schools other than public schools.

As a part of this program, students spend half of the day underneath Lilly Bluff, where they will learn to use pulleys in a mechanical advantage system to hoist an adult into the air. They will also have the opportunity to try firsthand the rock climbing that draws visitors to the Obed from around the world. Students will spend the other half of the day along the banks of Clear Creek where they will learn to use aquatic organisms as a gauge of stream health. At this location, in calm water, they will also be given basic instruction in paddling canoes and kayaks. All necessary safety equipment, such as harnesses, helmets and lifejackets, will be provided.

To participate in the May 2022 programs, students must be in the eighth grade and must attend school, whether in a home or other non-public school setting, in Morgan County. The total number of participants will be limited to 50 and the program will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. To sign up, please call the park office at 423-346-6294 or email Chief Ranger Matt Hudson at matt_hudson@nps.gov. Enrolled participants should meet park staff at Lilly Bridge at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 24. Each student must have a parent, teacher or other adult guardian present who will be responsible for that student. Students should bring drinking water, a lunch, sturdy footwear, sunscreen and a change of clothing if desired. The program should conclude around 2 p.m.

Please contact the park at 423-346-6294 for additional information.