KBI Weekly Wrap Up – Round 4!

Here are Week 4’s highlights from Ms O. You can tell she is having a blast thanking her volunteers for the Kids Biking Initiative!

Tuesday: Ric and Lisa Loyd
Last Friday I wrote about the Hiawatha pageant site on Round Lake and a local historian, Eric Hemenway, and his storytelling lesson about the Hiawatha Pageants and Native life at the turn of the century.

It is indeed an important historical piece of northern Michigan that we should all be knowledgeable and respectful of.

My writing on Friday included a paragraph quoting Frank Ettawageshik’s words about the land and water and its interwoven history in all of our lives.

Today’s writing is on Horace M. “Huffy” Huffman Jr. and his daughter and son-in-law, Lisa and Ric Loyd, who have also been, and continue to be, deeply woven into the beauty and landscape of our land and water.

I met Rick and Lisa Loyd through the Trails Council in 2016. Ric was (and is) on the Trails Council Board of Directors and his wife Lisa is a retired school teacher.

Both Rick and Lisa have been 100% supportive of my Kids Pedaling with a Purpose program on so many different levels:

Along with his supportive voice on the Trails Council board, Ric has graciously let us park our large enclosed trailer (with 30 bike inside!) at his storage garage for the winter, and has assisted Steve Biggs in driving this trailer from the Trails Center to Spring Lake Park the month of May when the rides are going out. Ric has also volunteered to ride with us as an adult chaperone numerous times over the last years.

Lisa’s family connection with the trails, coupled with her giving heart, warm smile and teaching nature have also been very special to our Kids Pedaling with a Purpose journey. Lisa has met us at the Hiawatha Historical site to teach that lesson filling in when Eric Hemenway was not available. With her elementary teaching background, it is obvious she is a natural! She tells the native Hiawatha story, but also weaves into her lesson her Dad’s history with the trails.

Lisa has also been a big part of our fundraising journey, working with the Trails Center planning our Fall Appreciation Donor Dinner at the Bay View County Club and inviting me to speak to her Ladies’ Niners Golf Association, which under her guidance directed their annual gifting to our program last year.

As mentioned above, Lisa’s family connection to the trails is also a wonderful story to share.

Her Dad, the late Horace M. “Huffy” Huffman Jr., born in 1914, and was the second generation in their family to executively lead the Ohio-based bicycle maker: The Huffy Corporation.

I remember my Huffy bike when I was a kid! Do You?

Huffy gained a Northern Michigan connection through his wife, Jane, who was born in Cheboygan and moved to Dayton as a child. After spending some vacations at an inn in Harbor Springs, the Huffmans built a home at nearby Menonaqua Beach in 1964.

Huffy was a seasonal Emmet County resident, and is remembered for helping several area nonprofit organizations pedal forward.

Remember? The land and the water.

Horace “Huffy” Huffman served on the original committees with local forward thinking folks who rolled up their sleeves and developed 3 highly respected non-profit organizations in northern Michigan: The Little Traverse Conservancy, The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and the Top of Michigan Trails Council.

Huffy also supported the development of recreational trails, both in the Dayton area — where he helped plan for and fund the Miami Valley region’s first bikeway — and in Northern Michigan, where he became active in a rails-to-trails movement and was a co-founder of Top of Michigan Trails Council in the 1990s.

The Land. The Water. And The Trails.

The Hiawatha Pageant history site is a beautiful spot to stop when you are out pedaling or walking on the North Western State Trail. Rest a few minutes, drink some water, and read about a very special man and a very special native culture both deeply connected to our land and water.

When we are heading back with the 4th graders to Spring Lake Park at the end of our biking adventure day, we tell them to shout “Hi Huffy!” as they pedal by the platform on Round Lake.

Huffy would appreciate it if you would join them in that greeting when you are pedaling by.

Wednesday: Chris Steensma and the Oden Fish Hatchery
#KidsPedalingwithaPurposeVolunteersRock! continues north today on the NWST.

Next stop? The Oden State Fish Hatchery for lunch and our afternoon science lesson.

A warm thank-you goes out to Christine ‘Chris’ Steensma today. Chris has been employed by the Oden State Fish Hatchery for 10 years as their ‘Interpretive Guide’. She has led every 4th grade class on a 75 minute interactive science tour/lesson encompassing not only the trout that are raised there, but also important issues such as the impact of invasive species in our area.

Miss Chris is indeed an ‘Interpreter Extraordinaire’! Not only is she a natural teacher, she did not miss any of our visits – rain or shine! That’s 42 classes. 960 kids. 160 adult volunteers.

Miss Chris provided her interpreter teaching skills to over 1,000 local folks!

When most people hear the word interpreter they think of someone who translates the meaning of one language into another.

In parks, museums and zoos, interpreters translate artifacts, collections, and physical resources into a language that helps visitors understand and build meaning of these resources.

Credit for using the word ‘interpreter’ to describe the work of exhibit designers, docents, and naturalists goes to John Muir who penned in his Yosemite notebook: “I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can. It is then my responsibility to share what I experience and learn. (John Muir, 1896).

John Muir, (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) was one of the earliest modern preservationists. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, and wild life, especially in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, were read by millions and are still popular today. His direct activism helped to save the Yosemite Valley and other wilderness areas.

The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. But more than that his vision of nature’s value for its own sake and for its spiritual, not just practical, benefits to humankind helped to change the way we look at the natural world.

Another term for interpreters could be ‘Visitor Experience Specialists’. They provide orientation, information and inspiration in the right amounts and at the right times so that visitors will have more enjoyable, meaningful and complete experiences.

Miss Chris is an Interpreter who does just that – she provides orientation, information and inspiration in the right amounts, at the right times to our pedaling 4th graders (and adult volunteers!) for a purposeful and exciting science lesson at the Oden Fish Hatchery.

I could write on and on about how significant Chris’ role has been in our program – but I thought it might be more enjoyable to read about all she has gifted to our mission by scrolling through the photos in this post.

There is also an article that appeared in the national magazine entitled Legacy (May/June 2018 edition) entitled ‘Fish Rails to Bicycle Trails’ that I included. It gives a great history of the Oden State Fish Hatchery and includes our program back in its beginning days!

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Oden State Fish Hatchery Visitor’s Center is currently closed and Chris is working from home. She is hopeful that the center opens on June 12th, but shared with me that there will not be any programming or tours this summer.

Even though the Visitor’s Center is currently closed, there are great hiking trails that are open to the public. Hop on your bike and head out on the NWST to check out the fish and the trails at the Oden Fish Fish Hatchery. Just remember…stay 6 feet apart, wear a face mask and wash your hands!

Thursday: Max Putters and Spring Lake Park
The Kids Pedaling with a Purpose Educational Bike Rides that I led the summer of 2016 started at the Top of Michigan Trails Center on M-119.

I set up teaching stations at the Trails Center and then we lined up our bikes and headed toward Petoskey on the Little Traverse Wheelway – without having to cross M-119 thick with summer traffic.

It was a different story with one of those first summer rides scheduled to pedal the North Western State Trail up to the Oden Fish Hatchery.

To start that ride from the Trails Center, we would have to cross M-119. Just thinking about doing that with a large group of kids made my knees weak.

I remember sitting in my car at the end of the Trails Center driveway that summer, waiting patiently to turn left out on to M-119, and trying to figure out the safest way we could get a group of kids across this busy road. As the steady line of cars kept coming, my eyes wandered across the road to Spring Lake Park.


Spring Lake Park is a pretty cool park and is right across the street from the Trails Center.

If we start and end in that park, we don’t have to tackle M-119 traffic.

It has a covered pavilion and restrooms.

The North Western State Trail starts in that park.

The bike trail is paved, flat (except for one slight hill when it crosses Hiawatha Road) and has only 6 road crossings from the park to the Oden Fish Hatchery.

The park has awesome hiking trails and great ecology teaching sites.

Spring Lake Park is perfect to run our program out of!

It is one of those parks that seems like it has always been there – but it hasn’t. Little did I realize at that time that Spring Lake Park was there because of Max Putters.

Max has been on the Top of Michigan Trails Board of Directors for many years and his involvement with the development of Spring Lake Park is a big reason our program has been able to operate as successfully as it has.

Max volunteered to drive our SAG vehicle for a large percentage of our outings. SAG stands for ‘supplies and gear’ and serves as a support vehicle for cycling tours and races, transporting everything from water to medical supplies. Each time Max volunteered (which was many!) he loaded his truck with lunches, cases of water, a first aide kit, extra jackets and bike repair gear. He even wore a bright orange vest, stopped at each road crossing, put on his flashing lights, and assisting in getting the kids across each road safely. Max had a large road-crossing safety sign made to attach to the back of his vehicle as well!

Getting to know Max over the last 3 years has been a delight and I have had the opportunity to learn so much about him and his career work in our corner of Michigan.

Max has a rich background in land use and development across our area and Spring Lake Park is an excellent example of his work.

Max Putters served as the director of Emmet County’s planning and zoning department from 1976 until his retirement in 2005. Prior to that he worked for a private planning firm in the late 1960s developing Emmet County’s first planning and zoning regulations.

I dropped Max an e-mail a week ago sharing with him that I was going to run a story on Spring Lake Park, its development and why is it such an important part of our success. I had heard bits and pieces, but the response I got back from him really linked everything together.

Spring Lake Park history from Max Putters:

The Spring Lake Park land base was once in public ownership, probably owned by MDOT or Emmet County. The property was “sold off” as surplus government land with no observable use to the owner at that time.

Prior to that, the property existed as a former sandstone mining site in private ownership. In the early 1900s the sandstone was used to build what is now the Top of Michigan Trails Center office. This building was originally the home of the Foreman of the Sandstone Mining Company.

The mining operations left a small body of water, forming the lake we know today as ‘Spring Lake’. An interesting fact about that lake is that the water coming into Spring Lake (storm runoff, snow melt and natural springs) flows to the City of Cheboygan and out into Lake Huron through the Inland Waterway.

I used to explain a watershed to my biology students at Harbor Springs High School using that site as a local example of a watershed. I told them that if they carried a bucket of water up the back hiking trails at the Petoskey State Park and dumped it at the top of a hill between our local beach and M-119, half of the water would end up in Lake Michigan and the other half would end up in Lake Huron. The water headed east would work its way down to Spring Lake and then travel on to Round Lake, continuing its journey to Crooked Lake, Crooked River, Burt Lake, Mullet Lake, the Cheboygan River and on to Lake Huron.

Max went on to share that this land (now Spring Lake Park) had water frontage and was zoned for business. It was ripe for strip roadside development (a sprawl) resulting in narrow building/parking setbacks from M-119 that probably would qualify for variances to make it feasible. It also had great exposure to passer-by traffic. The proposed development plan was to place small detached office buildings “on stilts” in the waters of Spring Lake. Parking would be along the highway and the offices would be accessed by boardwalks extending out into the lake from the shoreline. The development was called “The Ponds”.

When this development idea was in the planning stages, Max contacted the Supervisor of Bear Creek Township about pursuing a grant to acquire the Spring Lake property for park purposes. Steps were then taken to file a land purchase application with Grant Funding from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) which proved successful.

Max shared with me the following:

“When I was working on this grant, I happened upon a group of Brownie Girl Scouts who were visiting this property on an outing, and submitted that picture to the DNR as proof of public interest in this site. How I happened to have my camera and coincidentally being there when the scouts were there, is something called fate, chance or just plain luck. The girl scouts ages were very near to the ages of the 4th Grade Kids Pedaling with a Purpose who visit there now”.

Max gives credit to Joe Hoffman, Sr. and the Bear Creek Township Board of Trustees for their vision in buying into the idea of a Spring Lake Park.

“It takes a lot of coming together to implement a park plan like Spring Lake. I believe the Township is still holding to positive visions like that. Dennis Keiser has been, and is, a real positive visioning force”.

Max went on to say:

“I was very fortunate in my career with Emmet County that there was so much shared vision at both the Country and Township level. Spring Lake Park might never have seen daylight if it wasn’t for the fact that the Township was being served by County Zoning. As Planner and Zoning Administrator, I had intimate knowledge of resource opportunities that came up, like Spring Lake Park. This inter-relationship worked to advantage in a number of other projects that involved the County. Zoning is not planning, but zoning leads to opportunities to do planning and implement plans.”

Max’s last phrase in his quote above really hit home with me – “Zoning is not planning, but zoning leads to opportunities to do planning and implement plans”.

I have had the opportunity to plan and implement a program that introduces kids to a healthy purposeful lifelong fitness option in our amazing corner of Michigan because of folks like Max Putters.


A couple of added notes: Thank you Bear Creek Township and Denny Keiser for your forward thinking and welcoming use of the park. And a very special thank-you to Emily Meyerson, who became township planner for Bear Creek and led the actual design and construction of Spring Lake Park after Max retired.

And last but not least, Spring Lake Park is the best classroom I have ever had in my teaching career!

Friday: John Scholten and the Petoskey School Board
My #KidsPedalingwithaPurposeVolunteersRock! blog writing yesterday highlighted Max Putters and Spring Lake Park. Writing that piece put me back to those beginning days of creating this program.

In July of 2016, I organized and led my first pedaling groups: kids 7-12 years old. I got such positive feedback after those rides I found myself thinking about what other types of programs could be created to get more kids out on our trails.

After teaching in the public school arena for almost 30 years, my thoughts flowed right into reaching out to our local schools to see what they thought about participating.

Step #1. Choose a grade level. That was easy. 4th grade. When asked over the last few years why I chose 4th grade my response was based on the summer programs that I had run. On those summer rides I usually had at least one 7 year old cry and at least one 12 year old roll their eyes and tell me that their Mom made them come. Rest assured, it was just a couple of kids those ages – but it stuck – and had me lean toward those 4th grade kids who could pedal their bikes longer and were excited about being there!

Step #2. Write a more detailed lesson plan focused not only on fitness and health, but include all other subject areas that are covered every day in the classroom.

Step #3. Sell the program to the schools.

My first call was to John Scholten.

I met with John, then Petoskey’s Superintendent, in the fall of 2016 to share with him my idea and immediately received his support. John is an avid runner and cyclist (as you will see in the photos with this post) and was all about Kids Pedaling with a Purpose. I did not present to the school board, but caught wind shortly after my first initial meeting with John that he brought it up at the next school board meeting. I also heard that he highly encouraged the board members to to make sure they penciled in one of our field trip dates on their calendar to ride with us. A little bit of positive peer pressure. I love it!

So a special thanks to Mary Bayer Ling, Mark Ashley and Kathy Reed for marking your calendars and pedaling with us!

John retired in 2019 after a 14-year tenure as Petoskey’s Superintendent. His support in the development of the program was a key piece of its success.

John is a member of Petoskey’s Rotary Club. After his retirement he continued his work with that organization for the eradication of polio by completing a fundraising cross-country bike ride. His ride began in Santa Barbara, California on Sept. 20th, 2019 and finished at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on October 29th. Like I mentioned above, he is an avid cyclist!

An added note: I met with our new superintendent, Chris Parker last fall to fill him in on our program and invite him to pedal with us. He was all about it too! We are not riding this spring Chris, but I look forward to you being out on the trail with us next year!

This week marks the end of the 4th week I have been posting #KidsPedalingwithaPurposeVolunteersRock! stories. 18 blogs to date…and I am not done yet! It is amazing how many local people have been a part of this pedaling journey!

The cancellation of our rides this spring has been sad. Writing everyday has helped. A special thanks to those of you who have been following.

#KidsPedalingwithaPurposeVolunteersRock! will be back Monday.

Five days of rain.
Sunshine this weekend.
Cooler weather.
Perfect for a bike ride!