Virginia Military Institute Cadets Give Back at VOF’s House Mountain Reserve

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Cadets and VOF staff Tommy Oravetz get ready for their workday on House Mountain.

Armed with loopers and handsaws, cadets from Virginia Military Institute (VMI) helped to clear a section of trail in VOF’s 875-acre House Mountain Reserve last week as part of their spring field training exercises.

The trail has become clogged with mountain laurel, rhododendron branches, small trees, and debris from storms.

“If you’re over six feet tall, you have to duck. The trail corridor has gotten really tight,” says Tommy Oravetz, land conservation specialist in VOF’s Blacksburg office. “We don’t have dedicated staff right now to maintain the property, so partnerships with the surrounding community are really important.”

VMI cadets have a special relationship with the mountain, says Cadet Emily Clark, a senior who helped organize the trip. “We hike up the mountain as part of team-building exercises in our first year, and it becomes part of our lives here. It’s always right there. It felt good to help out. I would 100% do it again.”

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