Report cover: "Downtowns and Trails" by UNH
The Downtowns & Trails Program at UNH Extension marked the 5-year anniversary of their program with a new, retrospective report.

Catching Up with NERCRD Small-Grant Recipients: The UNH “Downtowns and Trails” Team Celebrates Five Years of Programming!

With funding from the NERCRD 2017-2018 small-grant program, the Community & Economic Development Team at University of New Hampshire (UNH) Cooperative Extension developed a knowledge sharing network in New England to help communities capitalize on the potential benefits of trails for fostering vibrant downtowns. This network resulted in a guide to be used throughout New England and beyond and served as the foundation of the Downtowns & Trails Program at UNH Extension. Fast forward to 2024, and the team is celebrating five years of Downtowns & Trails programming with a new, retrospective report. Here are some highlights, but be sure to check out the full report here for some detailed case studies and key takeaways!

Downtowns & Trails, by the Numbers:

  • Completed in four communities, across four different New Hampshire counties
  • Engaged and trained 73+ volunteers, who have in turn donated hundreds of hours
  • Engaged eight businesses
  • Secured approximately $340,000 in related grants and projects
  • Collaborated with Trail Finder and Trailside Services — which connect trail businesses and users – 11 businesses are receiving free services and marketing assistance
  • Published several publicly available research briefs and reports
  • Spurred several ongoing research and outreach programs

The Downtown and Trails small-grant team was led by Shannon Rogers, Nature Based Economic Development Specialist and Assistant Extension Professor of Natural Resources & the Environment at UNH. (Rogers currently serves on the NERCRD Technical Advisory Committee.) A complete list of the founding team members is available here.

NERCRD launched its competitive small-grants program in 2015, with the goal of helping Northeast Land-Grant University faculty and educators document the impacts of their work while also encouraging collaboration across state lines. Since then, the program has been offered in 2017 and 2019, and has funded nine multi-state projects to date. To learn about future iterations of this funding program, be sure to join the NERCRD mailing list.