KBI Weekly Wrap Up – Round 5!

Here are Week 5’s highlights from Ms O. You can tell she is having a blast thanking her volunteers for the Kids Biking Initiative!

Monday: Charlevoix
We are not on the trails with 4th graders this year, but we are sitting back and recognizing all of the folks in our area who have been a big part of our success.

The awesome little town of Charlevoix is the focus of today’s post.

When I launched the Kids Pedaling with a Purpose Program, I was focused on Petoskey Public Schools. I quickly caught wind of other elementary schools in Emmet County expressing interest in their 4th graders having the opportunity to pedal with us too.

After visiting every elementary school in Emmet County marketing the program, I sent a general e-mail out to all of the Principals and 4th grade teachers in Petoskey (including SFX, the Montessori and Harbor Light), Harbor Springs, Pellston and Alanson. That first year (2017) I offered to lead 10 all-day educational bike rides for their 4th grade classes. These dates on the May calendar that year were available to the first 10 schools to connect back with me. Within 48 hours all 10 of these slots were full.

That first year received such positive feedback that I offered to schedule every 4th grade class in Emmet County for an all-day educational ride on the North Western State Trail the following year. In May of 2018 (the 2nd year of our program) we had 17 Emmet County 4th grade classes participate, jumping from 247 kids riding with us year #1 to 333 kids riding with us year #2.

The word was out.

Enter Charlevoix.

With Luther Kurtz serving as the President of the Top of Michigan Trails Council then, and Mayor of Charlevoix then and now, it made perfect sense that he wanted his 4th graders in Charlevoix to have the opportunity to pedal with us as well.

Luther invited me over to Charlevoix in the winter of 2018 to speak to a group of folks who were avid bikers and Top of Michigan Trail Supporters. I thought it would be a handful of people who wanted to hear a little bit about the program, but it turned out to be a much bigger group.

That presentation, to more people that I had anticipated, grew into a year of meetings and planning with an awesome group of Charlevoix folks who had a vision of launching a similar program for their community’s 4th graders.

We had our first Charlevoix group of 4th graders ride with us last year and offered them another year of pedaling with us this spring with the goal of them developing and launching their own program in 2021.

That connection with Charlevoix opened doors for the possible future growth of our program that I had not anticipated, nor even imagined. Over the last two years I have received calls from Cheboygan, Boyne City, Alpena, St. Ignace and a couple of communities downstate who are all interested in learning more about our Kids Pedaling with a Purpose mission.

A warm thank you goes out to Charlevoix’s Mayor Luther Kurtz for his initial outreach, Charlevoix’s Recreation Director Kent Knorr for his vision of launching a Pedaling with a Purpose program in Charlevoix and for over 20 other Charlevoix folks.

If you run into any of the Charlevoix people listed below make sure you thank them for loving kids and loving to bike!

Luther Kurtz, Kent Knorr, John Kurtz, Mary Kurtz, Elaine Kurtz, Brenda Bryan, Janet Kalbfell, John Kalbfell, Bill Cook, Patti McCreadie, Perry Irish Hodgson, Candace Wiers, Aaron Wiers, Rick Brandi, Karen Joy, Bob Boch, Dick Swenor, Pam Swenor, Maureen Owens, Sue Barnard, Doug & Tricia Drenth, John Haan, Shelly Arnold Novotny, Kacie Thomas and Michelle Bowen.

This is the 5th (and last) week that was scheduled this spring for our 2020 Kids Pedaling with a Purpose program.

This is the week that the Charlevoix kids would have been out on the North Western State Trail with us.

If you are connected with any 4th grade Rayder kids (and any other kids and adults for that matter) encourage them to hop on their bike and hit the trails!


Tuesday: Emmet and Charlevoix County 4th Grade Teachers
Post #21

The first 10 years I taught in Harbor I was half-time middle school and half-time high school. The remaining 17 years I taught high school Biology, Environmental Education, Anatomy & Physiology, and Health Education.

If I really go back in time, my 1st year in Harbor (1988) I taught 12th grade Journalism, 10th grade Health, 6th grade Reading, Kindergarten Swimming and I was the Middle School Lunchroom Supervisor! Quite the span of age and subject areas from 8:00am-3:00pm!

I look back on those early years teaching and realize that the core foundation of teaching was really all the same – no matter what age kids were in your classroom.

Every student needed to be talked to and treated respectfully, every student needed to be heard, and every student needed to be loved. You then had to roll up your sleeves and create an environment that invited them in. Last, but not least, you had to teach what you were supposed to teach.

Any teacher you talk with will share with you how much they love teaching. If you connect with them a little closer, they will probably open up and share some of the challenges that weave through their classroom daily. All challenges set aside, they are in the teaching profession because they love kids.

Teachers know that the more active kids are in their classrooms the more engaged and teachable the kids are. The more engaged the kids are the less challenges and issues you have. The less challenges and issues you have the more purposeful you can teach.

Teaching spins…just like the wheels on a bike.

The rim of the wheel represents the classrooms you teach in.

The hub is your heart.

The tire is your strength. Air in the tire gives it the power to spin smoothly, just like your strength brings balance and purpose to your classroom.

The spokes of the bike wheel are all of the kids that you touch. The more balanced we can keep our kids, the more smooth the ride will be. When a spoke is bent or broken, you work hard to fix it so the wheel spins smoothly.

When everything is aligned on a bike, the ride is much more smooth and much more enjoyable.

As all teachers know.

As all teachers strive to provide.

Riding a bike on our amazing trails in our beautiful corner of northwest Michigan provides the most interactive classroom imaginable. When you combine that awesome classroom with gifted talented teachers it doesn’t get much better.

Now that I have retired from the classroom, it is much easier for me to say “Teachers Rock!”

Today’s post has lots of photos. I tried to find one of every teacher who has biked with us. There are a couple that I must have just missed shooting a photo of in the whirl-wind of their day on the trail. I apologize. If you notice someone who is not in a photo, and have one you could send me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Our 2019-20 school year will be forever remembered as the most bizarre, heart-breaking, challenging school year that all teachers and students have ever faced. Last March you scrambled to put together 3 weeks of lessons for your kids who were being sent home to ‘lock-down’ with their family in the midst of COVID-19 fear and uncertainty. Those 3 weeks were extended into shutting down all schools in our state for the rest of the school year.

Despite that uncertainty and fear, every single one of you rolled up your sleeves, logged in to your computer and opened up your hearts. You went back to the basics of our profession:

Every student needs to be talked to and treated respectfully, every student needs to be heard, and every student needs to be loved.

#KidsPedalingwithaPurposeVolunteersRock! That is you Emmet County and Charlevoix 4th grade teachers!

Wednesday: Bill Prall
Post #22

The bike trails in our corner of Michigan are beautiful. I think we all agree.

Their beauty is a result of the leadership and hard work of Bill Prall.

I could have never safely led a line of 15+ young bikers in the summer of 2016 without the guidance and assistance of Bill Prall.

I could have never welcomed a busload of 4th grade kids to Spring Lake Park that first year of our program confidently without Bill Prall.

You would not have the beautiful biking trails that you do without the work of Bill Prall.

Bill’s connection with biking runs deep throughout his life. He is an avid bike rider and racer, has owned a bike shop, is an amazing bike mechanic, has volunteered his bike repair and tune-up services to thousands of people throughout our area, and currently works for the Top of Michigan Trails as their Trail Safety and Maintenance Director.

Bill was right there with me for all of my summer rides with kids. He set up his tent and worked one-on-one with the kids teaching how to do safety checks on their bikes along with basic bike tune-up tips. He made sure that the bike they were pedaling that day was safe to ride.

The first year we ran our 4th grade classes, I don’t think Bill missed one session. He was there, under his tent, making sure every one of our bikes was set and safe for the kids. When the class arrived, he reviewed safety, shifting and braking with the kids, made sure the bike they were riding was the correct size for them, and matched them up one-on-one with another adult volunteer for a practice ride.

Bill definitely set the safety standards that our program operates on.

The 2nd and 3rd year of our 4th graders pedaling, we did not see a lot of Bill. He was out making sure the trails were safe for us to ride on! About 3 years ago, Bill stepped into his current position as Trail Safety and Maintenance Director. The work he does for us is so valuable at so many levels.

Bill works with MDOT, the DNR, local counties and cities to improve and maintain the Top of Michigan Trails for the enjoyment of non-motorized trail users. That group includes bicyclists, walkers, runners, rollerbladers, XC skiers and dog walkers.

Bill’s work with MDOT ensures that trail and roadway intersections are properly signed, and that trail safety issues are identified and repaired. MDOT’s work also includes the repair of dangerous wooden bridge trail sections, brush and tree clearing and removal, and the overall clean-up of the trail. All of which Bill is a part of.

Bill has also painted directional markings on the trail along with STOP stencil paintings at road-crossing intersections.

Bill has set up his ‘Pit Stop Bike Tent’ for pre-ride bicycle adjustments for local tours and events. He also sets up the ‘Pit Stop Tent’ in the front yard of the Trail Center along the Little Traverse Wheelway throughout the summer months offering free bike safety screening and adjustments for the general public.

And last, but not least, Bill organizes and runs the annual BIKE SWAP held at the Trails Center, which assists in the funding for the Trails Council Safety & Maintenance budget.

When you are out on our beautiful, well-maintained trails make sure you smile and say thank-you to Bill…whether you see him or not!

#KidsPedalingwithaPurposeVolunteersRock! signs off for today.

My list of amazing volunteers continues tomorrow. A few more to go…thanks again for your following.

It is indeed a beautiful day in our corner of northern Michigan. Get outdoors and enjoy!

Thursday: YAC
The Petoskey-Habor Springs Area Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council is the focus of my 23rd #KidsPedalingwithaPurposeVolunteersRock! post.

The kids participating in our summer program the 1st year (2016) had to provide their own bike and helmet. It worked out great that summer. I limited the outing to 15 kids and I had Bill Prall checking all of their bikes to make sure they were safe to ride.

That fall when I wrote the curriculum and began marketing it with local schools, I realized that the only way we could pull off leading an entire 4th grade class on a biking field trip was to provide each student with a bike. It just would not work asking kids to provide their own bikes. I needed a fleet bikes that were tuned up, safety checked, and ready when the kids arrived.

That is when I realized I needed to raise some money.

One of the first local grant opportunities I applied for was with the Youth Advisory Committee of the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation (P-HSACF).

The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) is an awesome group of students in grades 8-12 across Emmet County. They are part of a network of more than 1,800 young people serving on 86 youth grantmaking committees around the state. Since YACs began, over $33 million has been granted to support youth programs across the state of Michigan. Our YAC in Emmet County was established in 1994 and has gifted ~$1.5 million back to our local community for programming that focuses on our youth.

Through grant requests with YAC, our Kids Pedaling with a Purpose program has received funding not just for our opening year, but for our 2nd and 3rd years as well!

In 2016-17 we were granted our initial YAC request ($5,775) for the funding necessary to lease a fleet of new bikes with Latitude 45 and purchase 30 helmets. We opted to lease that fleet for 3 years (a savings of almost $5,000 dollars if we would have purchased the bikes outright). The leasing package we received included a tune-up of all bikes each spring and storage of the fleet in the winter.

The $4,750 we were granted in 2017-18 was for program operational costs and the $3,000 grant we received in 2018-19 was used to purchase our 3-year leased fleet outright. Our bike fleet has been so well cared for the last 3 years, we are confident that we have solid good bikes for the next 3-5 years of our program’s operation.

The grant gifts (totaling $13,525 over 3 years) we received from YAC, a group of young forward-thinking youth in our community, provided us with the tools that were necessary for us to launch our program and to successful run it. The philanthropic work of our local YAC is providing positive opportunities for so many young folks in our area.

This year the goal of YAC was to focus on making a deeper connection with their grant partners.

I met with Sarah Ford, P-HSACF’s Director of Community Philanthropy and YAC’s Adult Facilitator, last summer and together we created an opportunity for the YAC kids to meet that goal.

In December I attended their monthly meeting at the Crooked Tree Arts Center and presented an overview of our program and invited them to join our volunteer crew.

And join then did!

The plan was to have the YAC kids attend a winter 4th grade classroom presentation, assist us in the gyms testing kids biking skills, attend a volunteer training session in April and then join my volunteer team and ride one ride with us this spring.

This winter, every classroom presentation that Greg Fuller, Christian Janssens and I did, there were YAC kids present. We had teams of YAC kids helping us in the gym when we were putting kids on bikes, and when I posted SignUpGenius in February for them to pick their volunteer ride date in May almost all of those slots were filled.

Our YAC team of kids definitely have had a school year that they will long remember – especially the seniors. Such a crazy time in all of our lives on so many levels. Emmet County’s YAC is a group of strong, intelligent, mature, forward-thinking young adults. They are the young people stepping out into our world this year, and years to come. They will be our future teachers, healthcare providers, business owners, law enforcers and political leaders. The Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation provides these kids with an opportunity to jump-start their leadership journey.

We cannot thank you enough for that.

Log into https://www.phsacf.org/about-us-2/youth-advisory-committee/ and read about all of the awesome things our YAC kids are doing to make our area a better place.

There is a group photo of our 2019-20 YAC crew with this post (thanks Sarah!) and one other photo of two YAC volunteers at Central School this winter. It is the only photo I have of our YAC crew at work. I guess I was a little busy when visiting schools this winter!

A very special thank-you to the following YAC crew! For those of you who have graduated and are embarking on the next chapter of your life, I wish you well. For the others I will be connecting with you again next school year asking you to volunteer and ride with us!

Alex Carlson, Petoskey Middle School
Suzy Carpenter, Petoskey High School
Liv Cerrudo, Petoskey High School
Ellen Collie, Harbor Springs High School
Jeep Damoose, Harbor Springs High School
Ella Deegan, Harbor Springs High School
Abigail Donovan, Petoskey High School
Heidi Dumas, Petoskey High School
Anna Dundon, Petoskey High School
Cadence Glass, Petoskey High School
Will Goelz, Petoskey High School
Ellie Jones, Petoskey High School
Sarah Liederbach, Petoskey High School
J.J. Marshall, Petoskey High School
Beatriz Miranda, Petoskey High School
Quinn O’Neill, Petoskey High School
Colin Robbins, Pellston High School
Mamie Scholl, Petoskey High School
Ethan Schumaker, Harbor Springs High School
Michael Sherman, Petoskey High School
Paige Simard, Petoskey High School
James Stebelton, Petoskey High School
Luke Sumpter, Petoskey High School
Kyla Wang, Petoskey High School
Brynn Werner, Petoskey High School
Jaeger Williams, Petoskey High School
Sarah Ford, Community & Donor Engagement Officer, Co-Advisor
Chris Cerrudo, Volunteer Co-Advisor


Friday: Mike Skirvin
Being a volunteer means that you are offering something – something that is not required nor an obligation. Most of the time, to volunteer means that you are working side by side with others. This connects you to other human beings as you are working toward a common goal. When you volunteer, you are making connections.

Mike Skirvin has done just that.

Mike has been working side-by-side with me since the inception of our program.

Not only working side-by-side, but actually pedaling side-by-side as you will see in the photos accompanying today’s #KidsPedalingwithaPurposeVoulnteersRock! post.

Mike is all about the common goal of our program – to get more kids out on our trails.

And Mike is making connections.

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that roughly 9% of the 4th grade kids in Emmet County cannot ride a two-wheeler. It is folks like Mike Skirvin who have provided the opportunity for these kids to experience being out on the trail pedaling with us.

As you will see in today’s photos, Mike has been pedaling Jack Gosvenor’s side-by-side on quite a few of our outings. If we did not need the side-by-side, Mike has been pedaling his own recumbent bike as lead rider for our yellow or green group. His recumbent bike is awesome for him, and it is also awesome for the kids to see him riding it. There are a lot of options out there for us to exercise and enjoy the trails and it is really cool for the kids to be able to witness that.

Mike has been volunteering and riding with our 4th grade Kids Pedaling with a Purpose program since we kicked off in 2016. He has joined us for many of our spring rides with 4th grade classes and has also helped with our summer rides with local and out-of-town kids. I haven’t kept count of exactly how many of our outings Mike has volunteered for, but I am sure he is in the top 10 of my volunteers for hours contributed to the program!

Just to give you an idea of Mike’s nature…

After one of our rides in May of 2018 I received this e-mail message from him:

“Today I rode the side-by-side with a petulant 10 year old standing outside the gym with her arms folded to a sad “mermaid” (her t-shirt) lamenting the end of the ride. It was indeed a beautiful transition for Eve, and was by far, my best day of KBI.”

“In the last of our conversation riding back, she talked about wanting to learn to ride on her own, but she doesn’t have a bike. What do you think about an every other week kids ride club during the summer? Maybe we could partner with Latitude45 for low cost rentals. I would definitely volunteer.”

Mike, you have definitely volunteered over the last 3 years and I cannot thank you enough!

Today would be the last day of school for many of our districts in Emmet County, if schools had been in session this spring. It is so strange to think these kids have not been in their classrooms since March. On Wednesday and Thursday of this week I would have been leading my last two 4th grade classes (Charlevoix) on their all-day educational bike ride. To be honest with you…I probably would be sitting on my front deck with my feet up recovering today if our 4th year of leading kids biking groups had occurred this year. I absolutely love doing it, but 18 all-day field trips with 380+ 4th graders in a 5-week window requires a few days of recovery when it is all complete!

Writing these posts (this is #24) has been very therapeutic for me. I really have missed not be out on the trails with the kids and all of my awesome volunteers. Writing about all of you these last 5 weeks has helped me let go a little bit easier.

The thing is…I am not done posting and blogging!

Yes, I have a few more folks to recognize and thank, so I will be back next week.

In the meantime, happy biking or hiking on our amazing network of trails.

Check out this week’s #KidsPedalingwithaPurposeVolunteersRock! posts on our Trails Council website. Go to www.trailscouncil.org and click on News and Events. Scroll down to Trails Blog and get caught up on our crew of amazing folks who love biking and love kids!