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June 26, 1997

Greensburg plans educational 65-mile bike trip

A group of about 25 freshmen at Pitt's Greensburg campus (UPG) will be treated to a new learning experience starting on Aug. 21, when they embark on a 65-mile bike trip along the Youghiogheny River Trail.

The three-day, two-night journey will balance academic and recreational activities. The freshmen will be guided by UPG faculty, staff and upper-class student mentors.

"It will be an opportunity for the new students to get acquainted by working toward a common goal," said Charlene Touvell, student services coordinator at UPG.

"The freshmen will discover that one of UPG's strengths is its emphasis on student and faculty interaction." The group will bike the traffic-free trail above the Youghiogheny River between Confluence in Somerset County and Boston near McKeesport in Allegheny County.

Although 65 miles may seem a long distance to travel on a bicycle, Rick Fogle, UPG's director of Student Life, noted that the students should be able to make the trip in three days.

"In addition," Fogle said, "the trip will include most of the comforts of home, including indoor accommodations and showers." The academic aspects of the trip are being coordinated by UPG history professor Mark McColloch, who said the emphasis will be on visual and hands-on participatory experiences.

"We'll have UPG professors directing activities like water sampling and study of local plants and animals, and activities focusing on the region's rich heritage of Appalachian arts," McColloch said.

The Youghiogheny's history includes explorations by George Washington, and French and Indian War battles.

It also was a major route for escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad and for coal and coke shipments during the Industrial Revolution.

"This project combines academics and recreation, and can become a signature event," said UPG Interim President Norman Scanlon. "I hope to practice riding this summer so I can participate in at least one day of the trip." For further information on UPG's Youghiogheny River Trail bike trip, contact McColloch at 836-9875 or Touvell at 836-9954.

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