Studying forestry among the lush pines or learning about the Steelhead trout swimming through the streams at their feet, students from Troy, Idaho have discovered the wonders of nature at the Neuman Conservation Forest for years. A recent grant from Innovia provided for the construction of a multi-purpose, outdoor educational pavilion on the land, preserving the space for generations of learning and community connection.
“Enhancing community access to the Neuman Conservation Forest has been a long-held dream of the landowner, Judy LaLonde, and her late brother, Brad Neuman,” said Lovina Englund, Executive Director of Palouse Land Trust (PLT).
Once slated for subdivision development, Brad Neuman purchased the plot of forested hills and pristine meadows to establish an alpaca farm. Year after year, he invited local Troy elementary students to tour the farm and learn from its outdoor spaces.
When Judy inherited the farm, she was committed to honoring the legacy of her brother by sharing the family’s land with the community. To bring this dream to life, she placed 49 acres under a conservation easement with PLT, a grassroots community organization that works with landowners and communities to safeguard beloved lands and connect people to nature.
Under the care of PLT, the beloved family farm now features a publicly accessible 1.2-mile loop trail, complete with interpretive and educational signage. The pavilion fulfills the need for a dedicated learning space within the forest to accommodate local student groups.
PLT partnered with the Design-Build Program at the University of Idaho to orchestrate construction, giving local students the opportunity to help design and build the new learning space. The student-driven team broke ground on the project last spring. With the foundation in place, the pavilion is well on its way to welcoming the next generation of conservation-minded students.
“The entire Troy community, young and old, can traverse through the forest, catching sounds of the babbling waters, movement of tall pines swaying in the wind, and calls of the wild creatures within,” added Lovina. “The pavilion will bring together young minds to learn, to inspire and to develop and foster the conservation ethic.”