DCP hosts Pioneer Days at Bear’s Mill


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — Darke County Parks welcomed approximately 600 fourth graders to Bear’s Mill over the course of three days beginning May 7. Ten schools and a homeschool group got a taste of what life was like in the early- to mid-1800s and the hard work and dedication families had to have in order to survive.

The funding for this educational opportunity was made possible by a grant from the Ohio History Fund. Sophie Nieport, manager of Bear’s Mill, received the funding earlier this year.

The students participated in several hands-on activities, including shelling corn, pulling logs, making whirligigs and candle dipping. According to Nieport, other stations students enjoyed were baking cornbread over the fire, tour of the mill and learned the process for grinding corn, Native American life, Lewis & Clark Expedition, pioneer toys and blacksmith and tinsmith.

As for which station was enjoyed most by the students, Nieport said, “The responses I heard were candle dipping, making whirligigs and being outside and hiking the trails.”

An event of this magnitude takes a lot of work and help to make it happen. Darke County Parks had plenty of help with 40 volunteers including eight high schoolers with the Greenville Careers with Children classes, 10 high schoolers with the Mississinawa Valley FFA and all of the Darke County Parks staff who Nieport said always go above and beyond. “Without these dedicated helpers, we could not make this event happen.” Although she admitted the event was exhausting, she and her volunteers agreed it was worth it.

The school districts participating in this year’s Pioneer Days at Bear’s Miller were Ansonia, Arcanum, Bradford, Franklin Monroe, Greenville, Montessori, Mississinawa Valley, Randolph Eastern, St. Mary’s, and Tri-Village.

Nieport added, “I would like to thank everyone who helped make this event possible, especially the Ohio History Fund. This organization chooses projects like this to financially support because they too see the value in showing our youth the importance of our history and life in a simpler time. Having almost every Darke County fourth grader come through Bear’s Mill will ensure the appreciation of our local gem through the coming generations.”

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

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