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“Rural by Choice Champion: Empowering Her Community through Big Initiatives and Transformative Parks and Trails”

Jul 27, 2023

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Pictured: Joslyn Kusiak, Lacey Lies, Mike Goodwin (Kansas Trails Council), Brittney Holum, Tabatha Snodgrass

Brittney Holum, one of the twelve grant recipients of the Rural by Choice Champions Program, has been hard at work on the Independence Rural Connection project. This initiative focuses on building trails, wellness, pedestrian and cyclist safety, beautification, and arts and culture through connecting partners and resources to build a stronger rural community.

Accepting her charge to be the connector across partners and resources, early on in the initiative Brittney focused on traveling to other rural areas throughout the State to connect to other successful organizations and network with key players across the State. One example of this is she actively participated in three of the Kansas Sampler Foundation Trail Do-Alogues. This program’s mission is to promote trail building and networking throughout the State and is sponsored by the Sunflower Foundation and is facilitated by the Kansas Trails Council and Sampler Foundation.

A simple yet impactful example of Brittney’s planned and completed projects is May Monday Miles. This was a successful health initiative that Brittney and her champion’s champions developed and hosted. May Monday Miles encouraged community members to get outside and walk one mile over the lunch hour on every Monday in the month of May. Brittney created different walking routes in an effort to highlight community resources and different areas of the community.

Brittney is currently hard at work working with partners and facilitating a comprehensive and completely new trail system known as “Indy Trails”. The first trail in this system was is a hiking/biking loop built by Eagle Rock Shredders Mountain Bike Group, located in what’s to be a new, $10.6M sports complex. At the Grand Opening in June, Brittney organized and marketed the event where over 150 people attended to support this new trail.

Brittney has plans for three to five additional hiking/biking trails/routes for the Indy Trails System. In working towards that goal, through Brittney’s efforts, Rural Connection received approval from the Independence City Commission to begin the development of a new 1.4 mile trail along the Verdigris River and through the Riverside Park & Ralph Mitchell Zoo. Building will commence this Fall.

Brittney has grand plans and is taking action after careful research, planning, and networking. It’s expected that she will continue to build relationships and networks to continue to bring success to Independence through trails.

In addition to the support directly received from the Rural Champions Initiative, Brittney’s grant is facilitated through the Community Foundation for Independence, which actively supports 30+ organizations in Southeast Kansas.