Storybook Trail unveiled today in Montgomery County park

Miami Valley — Today Governor Mike DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz unveiled two new Storybook Trails.

The first trail is located in Sycamore State Park in Brookville, and the second trail is located in Findley State Park in Wellington.

New Center 7′s Michael Gordon was at the unveiling to walk the path and explain how this new opening combines literacy with a love of nature.

First Lady Fran DeWine led and read her way through the trail opening, which she said is aimed at helping to close the gap on early literacy skills in children.

“It makes kids look around with that little extra activity that each board gives and makes them see things that maybe they hadn’t thought of before,” she said.

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First Lady DeWine said she’s been a supporter of storybook trails since its start in 2019, adding that Ohio’s ten storybook trails all have different nature themed stories.

Parents also explored the new trail, with Penelope Zeppernick calling it a new found treasure.

“If they start reading young it gets them. They realize reading can take you anywhere and you can go on all kinds of adventures in a book,” Zeppernick said.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director, Mary Mertz, said that to build this trail crews worked quickly to expand an earlier path, adding in the children’s book pages and other interactive elements.

“We wanted to keep the trail to about half a mile because that is about how far the kids who are learning to read can enjoy it without it feeling like a chore. There is tremendous staff at every state park where we put these trails in,” Mertz said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources partnered with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide story content for the trails.

First Lady DeWine hopes to see trail openings this summer while also growing the number of kids signed up for the Imagination Library Book Service.

“We want to make it so that all of the kids statewide who are eligible all under 5 signs up and we think that getting the books and doing fun things is great to get them interested in reading,” she said.