MOUNT VERNON — Building leaders while building trails is exactly what happened this fall when cadets in the Air Force JROTC program at the Knox County Career Center accepted a mission at Wolf Run Park. The challenge was 20 tons of mulch, an overgrown hiking trail and two acres of unwanted brush.
The result was a win-win situation for both the cadets and the Knox County Park District.
“We wanted to clean up some areas within Wolf Run and expand access in the park,” said park district operations manager Doug McLarnan. “[The cadets] stayed on task and got the job done.”
“We wanted an activity that would strengthen the students’ character and provide opportunities to learn life skills,” said retired Lt. Col. Chris Salvucci, a JROTC instructor. “Building leaders with strong character traits doesn’t happen in the sterile environment of a classroom. It’s imperative we get the students out in the real world so they can learn from their mistakes while we’re still able to control the situation to some degree. If we allow the students to live in protective bubbles for the first 18 years of their lives, then throw them to the wolves the day they graduate, we have done them a terrible disservice.”
The cadets were responsible for organizing groups of volunteers, managing the volunteers on site and accomplishing as much of the assigned task as possible.
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