WENTWORTH – Trevor Flanery has joined the faculty and staff of Rockingham Community College as the new director of the Duke Energy TRAILS program.

Duke Energy provided a $700,000 gift to begin the program in April 2017, the first community college recreational program of its kind in the region. It is designed to teach valuable hands-on skills while remaining grounded in learning through service-inspired leadership. TRAILS is an acronym for “Trail Recreation and Adventure Institute for Leadership and Service.”

Flanery grew up in Stokes County and now lives in Winston-Salem. He holds a PhD in Planning, Governance and Globalization, and a Master’s degree in Geography – both from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts with distinction in Geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Flanery has taught as an adjunct faculty at Virginia Tech, Radford University, as well as RCC in previous years. Prior to his doctoral studies, he worked in a state senate office in Wisconsin.

“I have an extensive background in leadership and public service with nonprofits, governments, and academic institutions, including volunteering with the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail to redesign the Dan River portions of the Stokes County route to enhance safety and environmental amenities,” Flanery said.

“My doctoral research focused on better understanding the social, physical, and financial system components needed to foster development and better planning in distressed communities,” he said. “I recently served as the executive director of Forsyth Futures, a nonprofit focused on providing better data and strategy to improve Forsyth County outcomes involving race, labor, housing, public safety, food justice, community leadership and empowerment, poverty, health, and environmental issues. This interdisciplinary knowledge base should serve me well in preparing students for the outdoor recreation, ecotourism, and entrepreneurial workforce needs of the Dan River Basin.”

Flanery replaces RCC’s first director of the TRAILS program Tim Johnson, who left to join the private sector but who continues to teach RCC trail-building Continuing Education classes.

On June 12 – Flanery’s third day on the job – he said he’s already working on how to move the program curriculum forward, and recognizes that his and Johnson’s areas of expertise, while both valuable, are different.

“What I really like about the program is that it has a targeted focus on some of the key assets the region has. There’s a lot of opportunity to develop local strengths, economically, and a lot of things that can be done to enhance it environmentally as well,” he said.

“Because the TRAILS program is trying to help with the ecological education, and has the design skills component, we will look to collaborate with the entrepreneurial and business management side of the program, and try to bridge the gaps that might be keeping certain kinds of outdoor recreation and business opportunities from expanding as much as they might,” Flanery said.

The TRAILS program at RCC includes a sustainable outdoor skills training sequence of classes for varying skill levels, interest, and needs. Lecture, discussion, and experiential activities and fieldwork are combined to help students completely comprehend the course content.

The courses are beneficial for anyone what has an interest in – or is responsible for – managing natural surface, multi-use trails. These trail skills enhance the overall skillsets of those who are or may become staff from federal, state and local government land management agencies; non-profit land conservancies; planning, parks and recreation, and maintenance departments; trail crew leaders, members and volunteers.

Continuing Education courses in the TRAILS program are scheduled in the coming months, including Sustainable Trail Design and Layout, Construction, and Maintenance, scheduled for Oct. 7-10 and Dec. 2-5; Sustainable Trail Assessment, Permitting, and Contracting on July 30-Aug. 1; and Wilderness First Aid on Sept. 21-22. Past course offerings have included kayaking and canoeing, Fall and Spring Foraging, and Wild Mushroom Certification. Additional offerings for the fall will be announced soon.

RCC can also create and schedule a program for any agency or organization that has specific trail skills training needs. For more information on TRAILS, call 336-342-4261 or visit www.rockinghamcc.edu/trails.

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Gerri Hunt is director of public information at Rockingham Community College. She can be reached at huntg0780@rockinghamcc.edu or 336-342-4261 ext. 2170.

Joe Dexter is a staff writer for RockinghamNow and covers Reidsville, Wentworth, courts, crime and government.

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