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County hiking challenge begins

Nicole Walrath, director of Workforce Development, Makiya Smith, student winner of design challenge, Randy Gardinier, hiking enthusiast, Jenna Patterson, Business and Education Partnership coordinator, Anne Boles, director of Tourism Development, and Melissa McGill, art teacher, present Makiya her certificate and congratulations via Google Meet.

GLOVERSVILLE — The Fulton County Tourism Department announced a new tourism initiative, set to begin this summer. The “Fulton County Five” will be a 5-hike challenge for locals and tourists to participate in and enjoy the beauty of local hiking, according to a news release.

Hiking challenges are designed to give people an opportunity to visit new places and explore new trails. This challenge is on a beginner/intermediate level and would be challenging, but completable. The five trails are:

∫ Nine Corner Lake

∫ Kane Mountain Fire Tower

∫ Stewart and Indian Lake

Fulton County Five Hiking Patch, created by local P-TECH student Makiya Smith of Mayfield. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

∫ Willie Marsh

∫ Mud Lake (Mayfield)

From the tourism perspective, the goal would be for people to hike, dine, stay and hike again making it a multi-day trip. After completion, hikers would mail the tourism department a completion form (Google form on website,) and in return the hiker would be sent a certificate of completion and a patch.

This initiative was started as a conversation with Randy Gardinier, local hiking enthusiast. Gardinier has always enjoyed hiking and have done sections of the Northville-Placid trail as well as a few high peaks in the Adirondacks, the release stated.

In the spring of 2020, amid the pandemic, his cousin had shared with the Adirondack 50 Falls Challenge book, which leads participants to 50 waterfalls in all corners of the Adirondacks from roadside cascades to hikes more than 10 miles.

Along with seeing new places, it provided good exercise, and he spent time, although often distanced, connecting with family, friends and loved ones in a way that has led the chamber to looking to continue different challenges this year.

Gardinier grew up in the area and has chaired the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation for more than 22 years. He has been a supporter of Fulton County and all it has to offer, the release stated.

“I realized how much I enjoyed these other places that were new to me and that a local challenge could be another way to showcase our area while garnering some tourism dollars along the way,” Gardinier said.

Further conversation for inaugural challenge led to develop a partnership with Nicole Walrath, director of Workforce Development and Jenna Patterson, business and education partnership coordinator with the Hamilton Fulton Montgomery Pathways in Technology Early College High School, where Walrath suggested working with art teacher, Melissa McGill, for patch design as a workplace challenge.

“Workplace challenges are such a vital part of the PTECH program, and we cannot thank the Fulton County Tourism Department enough for the opportunity to let our talented students work on a real-world project,” Walrath said.

McGill’s two-dimensional design class took on the project and created designs that were professional and relevant to the project.

“The students did an incredible job with their designs,” Anne Boles, director of Tourism Development said. “We showed them pictures of the hiking landscape in our presentation, and they took those pictures and presented designs that were appropriate and pertinent to Fulton County. I am in awe of their talent at such a young age. It has been a wonderful start to this project.”

According to the release, it was a hard decision, but the winner of the patch design challenge was Makiya Smith, a PTECH sophomore from Mayfield. While creating her design, she knew that she wanted a five-point shape to split in five for each trail. Smith used the pictures presented for inspiration, and highlighted the fire tower at Kane Mountain, the bridge at Willie Marsh, and the rocks at Nine Corner Lake.

Smith’s favorite way to create art is digitally, the release stated, because when she makes a mistake, she can press the undo button, but on paper, erasing would cause a mark to be leftover on the paper. Her goals for artmaking in the future are to improve on her art style, color theory, proportion and backgrounds.

When asked who her favorite artist is, she said, “I don’t really have a favorite artist, but if there was a favorite, I would have to say, Heartmush. Their art style is so cool and the colors they use in each artwork are stunning.”

Smith is a proud student of the PTECH program.

“At PTECH, I get a college degree and experience in professionalism,” she said in the release. “PTECH also has project-based learning, where the projects have good messages. An example of this would be our last project, not our current one, where my partner and I made a Random Act of Kindness Calendar for April. We were tasked with the mission of creating something that would spread kindness.”

Smith’s future plans are to “easily take care of her parents and help her family when they are in need.” She also plays the trombone in her spare time.

“Working with the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce has been a great opportunity for our PTECH students,” McGill said. “The two-dimensional design class has created professional and eye-catching designs. Makiya continues to demonstrate her creativity, eye for design, and high level of craftsmanship in her work. I can’t wait to see what she does next. I am definitely going to participate in the hiking challenge. I have already completed one of the hikes.”

For more information on the Fulton County Five Hiking Challenge, visit Fulton County Tourism website: http://www.44lakes.com/fulton-county-5-hiking-challenge/

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