Ecolab Plant Manager Tom Ramsden grew up spending springs and summers at Summit Park in Beloit, and he always knew he wanted to give back to the place he loved as a kid.

Earlier this week, a group of nearly two dozen Ecolab employees and two representatives from the United Way Blackhawk Region teamed up to construct an interactive educational experience known as a “Born Learning” trail at Summit Park.

The Born Learning Trails by United Way are aimed at getting kids and families engaged with learning through interactive experiences while outdoors.

“United Way understands children are born learning. The colorful and interactive born learning trails encourage parents and caregivers to engage children in fun, outdoor learning experiences,” said United Way Blackhawk Region CEO Mary Fanning Penny.

Ramsden said the Ecolab team donated $5,000 to the United Way toward improving Summit Park, with teams gathering to paint the trail and install signs as the City of Beloit laid the groundwork for the sign posts.

“I am really proud of the work they did,” Ramsden said. “Everyone came out, had fun and did something for a good cause. We think that it is really important to make an impact on the community when we can. This was a great opportunity for us.”

Currently there are trails at Bond Park in Janesville sponsored by Alliant Energy; Riverside Park in Beloit sponsored by ABC Supply and Turtle Creek Park sponsored by Alliant Energy. A fifth trail is in the works at the Fourth Ward Park in Janesville to be sponsored by the City of Janesville, according to the United Way.

“Ecolab prides itself on having employees be engaged in the communities we live and work in, and going out and having that opportunity to bring happiness to people, really means a lot,” Ramsden said. “The trails are about experiential learning.”

The trails were new in 2020 as part of a public engagement campaign that helps parents, caregivers and communities create quality early learning opportunities for young children. A born learning trail contains 10 (12-by-24-inch) colorful and interactive signs with activities for adults to engage in with young children to turn an outdoor trip into a fun learning experience. Trails signs are printed in both English and Spanish. Stop! Learn! Play! encourages parents and caregivers to follow the child’s lead, building the child’s curiosity and confidence, and reinforcing the learning already under way.

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