It is fitting that the new visitor center in DuPont State Forest should be named in honor of Aleen Steinberg. Originally from Wisconsin and later living in Florida, Aleen Steinberg retired to nearby Cedar Mountain, NC. A tireless devoted fan of the outdoors since childhood, she took a special interest in our natural resources here in Transylvania County when she moved. Her family had vacationed here for many years and moved here full time fifteen years ago.
She, along with several other interested people founded the "Friends of the Falls" committed to fundraising and improving DuPont Forest. The project increased in popularity and is now known as "Friends of DuPont Forest." (You can link to the Website here)
When our daughter visits, we always take the short trip to DuPont State Forest to see the waterfalls. On her last visit, we also visited the new Aleen Steinberg Visitor Center. Inside are topographical maps of many of the trails, along with maps and brochures. The center is staffed by volunteers from Friends of DuPont Forest.
The Aleen Steinberg Visitor Center
Establishment of the Friends of DuPont Forest has led to many improvements in the area. Twice each year, the Friends sponsor tour buses to provide access to people who could not otherwise visit some of the waterfalls. And that is a wonderful thing.
However, in my opinion Aleen Steinberg's greatest project was co-founding a non-profit organization known as "Muddy Sneakers." (You can link to their Website here.) The mission of Muddy Sneakers is "To awaken in children a deeply felt connection with the natural world, one that inspires learning, and brings new life to classroom performance."
Photograph from the Internet, not credited
The program started in 2008, partnered with Pisgah National Forest and Brevard Elementary School. Fifth graders were taken to a new classroom as big as all outdoors...nature. Since then the Muddy Sneakers program has spread to four other counties in the NC mountains.
Photograph from the Hendersonville Lightning
The children learn about native trees, insects, and all manner of flora and fauna. Day camps are now running during the summers.
Photograph from Laurel of Asheville
How exciting and promising it is to have children learning more about nature and its wonders. And that's where it must start, isn't it? With the children.