Chenoweth Trails ready to open Nature Center


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — The Light Foundation’s Chenoweth Trails continues to grow and add more learning experiences for the youth that visit the renowned educational facility. Chenoweth Trails welcomes up to 9,000 youth from across the country every year. The Light Foundation was established in 2001.

Although known as an outdoor nature center with its expansive area of trees and ponds, the Light Foundation is taking the step to include an indoor Nature Center. According to Troy Eden, Chief Operations Officer, the facility will unveil the Nature Center on Friday, April 26, 4-6 p.m., at Chenoweth Trails, 440 Greenville-Nashville Road, Greenville.

The Nature Center is located in the Tree House that was built five years ago and Eden admits the tree house was “great, but it was kind of sitting empty.” He said visitors would visit the Tree House, walk through it and look out, but that was it. The organization was looking for something to fill the 50’ x 70’ space, aka Darke County’s largest tree house. “We wanted to create an environment that when they walk in there that everything they see around them is something they can walk into the woods and see right now,” said Eden.

He explained the goal of the Light Foundation is to get kids out of their normal, everyday environment and get them into nature.

Diana Stebbins, a longtime volunteer with Main Street Greenville and the annual Hometown Horse Parade, has turned her attention to supporting Matt Light, The Light Foundation and Chenoweth Trails and helping to create the new Nature Center. Eden pointed out that Stebbins was instrumental in helping to get microscopes for the facility, and some of the other exhibits on display.

Visitors will be able to look at everything from the tiniest creatures found in the woods around Chenoweth Trails to white tail deer and bobcats. Stebbins added they are putting together scavenger hunts for the youth that visit. “Go and observe a squirrel and see if you see any of these actions from a squirrel,” said Eden. However, they don’t just want youth to observe the items in the Nature Center, Eden and Stebbins are hoping the youth will also interact with the items. They want them to touch the items and learn more about the animals they may see at Chenoweth Trails. What does their hair feel like? Are the antlers sharp or are they dull?

Through this new offering at Chenoweth Trails and all the programs offered by the Light Foundation, which includes the Timber Frame Leadership Camp that draws kids from across the country, Youth Turkey Hunt, Hooked on Fishing, and more, Eden said the goal of building good citizens always plays a part in the planning and execution of their events.

“We want people that are responsible, ethical and accountable and live by integrity when they live their lives,” said Eden. In everything the Light Foundation does, they try to incorporate a code that teaches youth integrity, service before self and excellence. Eden said integrity is the bedrock of what they teach. They want youth to understand that doing the right thing when no one is looking is part of being a good citizen. Eden also emphasizes that giving back to the community is serving something bigger than yourself. He also stresses that to be a good citizen, the person should always strive to be excellent in everything they do. Eden said it doesn’t matter if you are a janitor or an MIT professor, strive to be the best at whatever you decide to do.

In addition to the grand opening of the Nature Center on April 26, 4-6 p.m., the Light Foundation will be starting another project for the youth that visit on that day. “They are going to plant some pumpkin seeds in little starter pots and we’re going to let them grow a little and we will transfer them to a pumpkin patch that we are growing. Those kids, throughout the summer, if they come back and help take care of that, weed it, take care of the patch, in the fall they will be able to come back and harvest their pumpkin,” said Eden. He said it will help the youth learn about the life cycle of a plant.

Chenoweth Trails will be hosting a hayride in the fall and those who planted and helped with the pumpkin patch will be able to pick out their pumpkin. More information on the fall hayride will be released this summer.

To RSVP for the Nature Center Open House, call 937-316-6352 or visit

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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