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Hands-on helpers

Kids at Voorheesville daycare are the youngest rail trail ambassadors

From left, Merrin and Tyler take a brief break from their Rail Trail ambassador duties to have race on Thursday, June 5.

From left, Merrin and Tyler take a brief break from their Rail Trail ambassador duties to have race on Thursday, June 5.

Some little kids have stepped up to take on a big role along a recently opened portion of the Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail.

There are eight children attending Serendipity Day Care Center in Voorheesville helping maintain a little more than a mile portion of the Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail. The kids, ranging second to fifth graders, walk weekly from where the trail ends just outside of Serendipity on Grove Street to Hilton Road.

Under the watchful eye of staff members, the kids collect trash, remove large debris from the trail and are responsible for notifying an adult of any major damage or concerns on the trail.

Kate Novitsky, director of the daycare center and afterschool program, said she read about the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy looking for rail trail ambassadors and reached out to its director, Mark King.

“We were pretty excited when we learned they were looking for ambassadors,” Novitsky said. “Once I got in touch with Mark, things went pretty smoothly. … He was very responsive in getting them their badges, vests and stuff.”

Novitsky notified parents their children would have the opportunity to volunteer. All of the kids volunteering had to sign a contract regarding their conduct on the trail, but they can stop participating at any time.

“I explain to the children they are volunteering, and they do not have to do this,” she said. “We have not been having any troubles, and it has been pretty easy to manage.”

She said only two kids who signed up eventually dropped out because they did not want to do it anymore.

King said he thought it was great to have the kids help out with the trail, and he confirmed they are the youngest ambassadors.

“They’re only group of kids doing that, and we are really pleased they are doing it,” King said. “We were thrilled they were really interested in it, and I thought it was a good way to get kids involved. It is a nice, structured approach.”

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