Sharon Ann Davis, Knox County Extension Agent
As Rylee Walton, an 8 th grader at Berean Christian School’s home school program, was considering what to do for her 4-H citizenship project, she wanted to combine her love for her community and dogs. She saw an opportunity through the Boyd Foundation where five hundred thousand dollars would be granted to install 10 dog parks in Knox County making it the top county for dog parks per capita in the nation!
Rylee thought about an abandoned football field near her home as a possible location for the dog park. The football field already had lights, water, and ample parking. It met all the grant speculations for size and location. It was also being considered for further development as part of a trail system to the riverfront. The property had some problems with home- less camps so the city was looking to improve this property to increase aesthetic qualities and safety. It was also surrounded by functioning base- ball/softball parks so it was a location primed for improvement.
Rylee created a flyer and put it in neighborhood mailboxes to see if they would be interested in turning the football field into a dog park. Her parents, Norm and Judy, say she learned to “brainstorm and get others’ inputs through 4-H.” She got an overwhelming one hundred per- cent positive response!
To move forward, she met with Lauren Rider, a councilwoman for the City of Knoxville, and Aaron Browning, Director for the City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department at the property. Later, Indya Kincannon, Knoxville City Mayor walked the property. All of these decision makers were highly supportive of the grant as it met with other interests the city has in the property.
She applied for the grant. Around the end of July, her project was awarded fifty thousand dollars from the Boyd Foundation to develop the property which is adjacent to the Milton Roberts Recreation Center! The dog park will take about two years to install completely but Rylee will be involved in some of the planning such as agility features, tree planting, and dog watering features.
Knox County 4-H is proud to be a part of this exciting opportunity thanks to Rylee’s developing 4-H citizenship project. We look forward to working on the project with Rylee and eventually holding our dog project meetings at the park.
David Lee, a community leader with Town Hall East, said: