St. Stephen – Ganong Nature Park is the recipient of a $4,500 grant from the sports and recreation branch of the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

Park manager Shelley Scott said the funding will be used to purchase equipment for outdoor winter recreation activities for use by park visitors. The money will also be used to fund training programs for staff and park volunteers.

Scott said the additional equipment will allow the park to expand its winter recreation activities. “It will allow us to reach out to groups of international students and schools to invite them to come out and use the equipment, go out snowshoeing.”

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Additional snowshoes will be purchased and the park is researching cross country skis which don’t require the use of specialized boots.

The park held a Family Fun Day in February where families were encouraged to take advantage of the new provincial holiday – Family Day – by visiting the park and enjoying activities such as snowshoeing, sliding, roasting marshmallows at a bonfire, and a market where vendors offered a variety of goods for sale.

“We want to offer a variety of outdoor fun,” stated Scott, adding the funding will “give us more of an opportunity in the winter season for people to try the park in off season and enjoy.”

The training for which the funding will be used will encompass the proper ways to use the recreational equipment, like the snowshoes, and provide for staff and volunteer CPR and first aid certifications.

Scott said the park intends to offer a mini-job fair during March break for high school and university students to outline what student jobs will be available at the park this year.

The job fair will take place March 8, and Scott noted the park could have between four and eight positions available, depending on the funding it receives for them.

This year will be a busy one at the nature park said Scott, citing the return of the historical reenactment camp in June, the International Lumberjack Competition in July, Chocolate Fest activities in August, and the Charlotte County Fall Fair in September.

The park will also host an Easter Egg Scramble this year on March 31. Last year’s event attracted 300 participants.

Scott said the park is currently examining the possibility of offering a fun dog event, based on activities that were held at the park in the past. Details are still being worked out for that.

“We will also be offering a whole series of homesteading events,” said Scott.