Omro Arboretum, Cyclocross Course, and Fitness Trail

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The Omro Arboretum, Cyclocross Course, and Fitness Trail is the product of many years of hard work, determination, and lots of help from the community. The entire project was completed in 2011 after nearly 5 years of work. The arboretum was the final piece to be created as it was dedicated to the late educator Bruce Fowler who died in 2011 shortly after the first trees were planted. The cyclocross course was the brainchild of Joe Horvath and Paul Williams who sought to bring cycling to every member of the Omro community. The Fitness trail was once again the idea of Joe Horvath and Paul Williams who wanted to make Omro a place where anyone could get fit and enjoy the outdoors.

History

Arboretum History

The Bruce Fowler memorial arboretum is the collection of years upon years of hard work and fond memories. For many years the students at Omro middle and high school would plant trees on Earth Day as a way to beautify the property. This was done under the direction of Bruce Fowler a longtime educator at Omro high school. In 2011 Mr. Fowler was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given just a few months to live. His good friend, Joe Horvath, decided that an arboretum needed to be made to remember his colleague. For the next 3 years the students, staff, and community members planted more than 25,000 donated trees. Now people can donate a certain amount of money to receive their own tree with their name or the name of someone who they want a memorial for. The arboretum is still being worked on today with new trees getting planted regularly and old ones getting trimmed often. It covers 3-acres and is a beautiful way to remember one of Omro's finest educators. [1]

Cyclocross History

The Cyclocross Course is the physical legacy of longtime Physical Education teacher and cycling advocate Joe Horvath. Horvath's son raced cyclocross for many years as a young adult which inspired him to make this part of the Omro community. His idea took many years to flourish as he faced much backlash from the school administrators. After showing how much of a benefit the course can have along with proof that it can be created with no extra money, the project began. It took just a few years to get everything put together. Starting with outlining the trail and sticking flags where the obstacles would be, students along with Joe Horvath began creating this 3/4th-mile course. They built the barriers in the wood shop at school, and handcrafted hills during recess and gym class. It all came together in 2013 and has been used countless times since then. [2]

Fitness Trail History

Starting as a simple line on the ground, the Omro fitness trail has changed the entire landscape of the school's campus. The trail boundaries were set in stone after checking where the common paths in the grass were after a year of letting the kids wander around the campus. The project truly began back in the early 2000's with a PED (Physical Education) Grant from the state of Wisconsin for fitness equipment. Once the equipment was brought in, it took an army of volunteers, a few backhoes, and a dozen bobcats to complete the project. All of the gravel and sand was donated by the community and everyone who was there was doing the work on their own time. The entire project took just 2 weekends to complete due to the large amounts of volunteers and lots of hard work. It is regularly maintained by the Omro grounds crew and a few unpaid volunteers. [3]

Uses

Arboretum

The arboretum is a 3-acre area of the Omro school district campus. It is a great place to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. It includes 25,000 trees, all of which were planted by Omro school district staff and students, an outdoor classroom, and many signs which give the history of the trees. The outdoor classroom and Arboretum is dedicated to the late Bruce Fowler, a long time educator, and a friend of the Omro community. The classroom is used by many science and history classes as a way to change up the scenery and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Many members of the community use the arboretum as a way to remember the people who have passed that have a tree dedicated to them. It is a place to relax, enjoy the outdoors, and reminisce about the past. [4]

Cyclocross

The Omro cyclocross course is a 3/4 mile long cycling skills and development path that includes many challenging obstacles. The course is open to anyone who is will to take the challenge of making it through the exciting trail. It is intended to build skills on the bike to help kids and adults become safer cyclists. The course includes steep dirt hills, fast and tight switchbacks, and barriers that riders will have to dismount their bikes and jump over to get past. The course is fun and challenging. It is used by the Omro Middle school as a unit in gym class, and during their Hobby Day. [5]

Fitness Trail

The fitness trail is intended to bring the community together by providing an area to walk, run, or cycle with your family, friends or complete strangers. The trail is 2.2 miles long and includes 22 fitness stations that people can use if they so chose. The stations include a variety of different tasks from basic pull-ups to deep breathing and meditation. The fitness stations are most frequently used by the Omro Middle and Elementary students during their gym class or recess. It is also commonly used by the Omro Middle and High school cross country teams for practice. It is completely free and open to the public for use at any time of the day. [6]

The People Behind the Project

Joe Horvarth

If it wasn't for Joe Horvath nothing on this page would exist. He single handily put together all of these projects, oversaw them, and made sure they would be taken care of in the future. Not only did he do the administrative work for them, he was also on his hands and knees planting the trees, carving out the cyclocross course, and laying the groundwork for the fitness trail. Joe Horvath is a man who changed the way Omro will look forever. [7]

Paul Williams

Paul Williams was another large contributor for all of these projects. He is the one who got all of the grants, donations, and people together to get the development started. He along with Joe Horvath are the originators of this whole project. [8]

Bruce Fowler

The late Bruce Fowler taught at Omro High school for many years before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During his years at Omro, he began the Omro beautification project along with Joe Horvath. He is the one who had the idea for the outdoor classroom and the Arboretum, and even though he did not live to see the projects be completed he was instrumental in the planning and organization of them. [9]

Faculty, and Staff

Being a small school, every single teacher, and school helper gave some time to these projects in a variety of ways. [10]

Students

Not only do the students use these resources on a daily basis, but they were the ones who planted the trees, laid the path for the trail, and designed the cyclocross course. Every student who went to Omro schools from 2005 to the present has had a hand in this project, making it community-wide and fully inclusive. [11]

References

  1. Interview with Joe Horvath, Nathan Erck, April 30th, 2018.
  2. Interview with Joe Horvath, Nathan Erck, April 30th, 2018.
  3. Interview with Joe Horvath, Nathan Erck, April 30th, 2018.
  4. Hodgen, Barbara. “Bruce Fowler Memorial Arboretum.” http://www.omro.k12.wi.us/district/arboretum.cfm (accessed April 27, 2018)
  5. Horvath, Joe. “Omro Middle School Bicycling Program.” http://www.ecwrpc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Developing-a-Bicycling-Culture-Joe-Horvath.pdf (accessed April 27, 2018)
  6. “Fitness Trail.” http://www.omro.k12.wi.us/community/omsfitnesstrail.cfm (accessed April 27, 2018)
  7. Interview with Joe Horvath, Nathan Erck, April 30th, 2018.
  8. Interview with Joe Horvath, Nathan Erck, April 30th, 2018.
  9. Interview with Joe Horvath, Nathan Erck, April 30th, 2018.
  10. Interview with Joe Horvath, Nathan Erck, April 30th, 2018.
  11. Interview with Joe Horvath, Nathan Erck, April 30th, 2018.

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