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A trail marker in front of the Administration Building points the way for people traveling the Bearcat Trail on the Northwest campus. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

A trail marker in front of the Administration Building points the way for people traveling the Bearcat Trail on the Northwest campus. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Oct. 17, 2020

Bearcat Trail developed by students open for community, recreation

By Leah Newell, communication assistant

Whether you walk, jog, run, bike or rollerblade, Northwest Missouri State University has a new way for people to explore the campus on its 3.1-mile Bearcat Trail

Finishing touches were put on the trail during the summer with the addition of directional posts and maps. The trail was established with the leadership of students who authored a grant application that acquired funds to help make the project a reality.

“It’s what we do here; student success – every student, every day,” said Dr. Tyler Tapps, an associate professor of recreation who teaches grant writing, a Northwest course designed to help students understand the requirements for writing grant applications. Grant writing is a valuable skill that can help build partnerships and help organizations acquire funds that allow them to launch initiatives or maintain their missions.

“Those two classes are 100 percent profession-based learning,” Tapps said. “Those students did something that is real. They did the work. They did all the background work. They helped to create the partnerships and develop the trails. I’m extremely proud to see them do projects that will have a lasting impression or Bearcat legacy.”

Students in Tapps’ fall 2014 grant writing course authored the grant proposal for the Bearcat Trail. Subsequent recreation operations management students helped complete the project, identifying wayfinding points and assessing ADA needs.

The Bearcat Trail features six trailheads connecting to city trails.

“We wanted a designated 5K route for entities, agencies, nonprofits and anyone else to have the ability to host their 5K races on campus,” Tapps said. “It’s 100-percent ADA accessible, and it’s away from traffic. It promotes wellness and health on campus for our faculty, staff and students. If you think about the COVID environment we are in, having a trail on campus where you can get out and get exercise is an extremely valuable asset.”

In addition to Northwest grant writing students devising a way for community members to further explore the campus and developing the grant proposal, the project benefitted from collaboration with the city of Maryville and the Nodaway County Health Department as well as Northwest Facility Services, the Office of University Marketing and Communication, Campus Recreation, and the School of Health Science and Wellness.

The creation of the Bearcat Trail adds to the existing recreational offerings at Northwest and in Maryville. The city also desires to work with students to replicate the campus concept for the city’s trail system. Once trails are connected with the South Main Corridor Improvement Project and the Torrance Street Trail Extension, signage and other trail amenities will be key to increasing system use.

“The students’ work on the trail is a tremendous example of how to elevate existing recreational offerings,” Maryville City Manager Greg McDanel said. “Trail signage is more than directional guidance, but a welcoming invitation to the entire community to enjoy Northwest’s 370-plus-acre campus. The designated trail adds to the overall quality of life Maryville provides to its residents at a time when outdoor recreation has never been more essential.”


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215