Pulley Tower was surrounded by a buzz of activity Saturday morning as Newton Crawford ran from student to student, offering up a softball he held in his mouth.
Newton and his golden retriever sister, Ivy, were there to lead a hike with Miami University President Greg Crawford and his wife and physics professor Renate.
By the time the hike began, Renate had already explained to the dogs several times that her Kind Bar wasn’t for them. Both refused to listen.
When it was time to head toward Bachelor Woods, Renate leashed each dog. Otherwise, she said, Newton would gladly run across the street to terrorize Oxford’s local squirrels.
The event, which ran from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. April 2, was planned by the EcoReps organization. About 20 students joined the Crawfords.
Alexandria Coffman, a junior member of EcoReps, said the organization has gone on hikes regularly throughout the semester. To get more students interested in Miami’s natural areas, she enlisted the help of the Crawfords and their furry friends.
“We knew that [our hikes] had been really successful events, and we wanted to expand them,” Coffman said. “We also knew that EcoReps tend to love going on hikes with dogs, and we wanted to make sure that they were familiar with the Crawford family and really bridge that connection.”
The group met at Pulley Tower before heading past the equestrian center to the Bachelor Wildlife and Game Reserve. The 416 acres were given to Miami by faculty member Joseph Bachelor in 1947 and are now home to a number of walking trails, a pond and a swinging bridge across Harkers Run Creek.
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Coffman said it was rewarding to see people on the hike who had never been to Bachelor Reserve before.
“I like just seeing the reactions of people as they get to go on the bridges and explore the areas and talk to each other,” Coffman said. “I like seeing other people enjoy nature, but I definitely enjoyed seeing everyone’s reaction to the swinging bridge.”
After a quick break at the bridge for Ivy and Newton to play fetch in the water, the hikers headed back toward campus.
For President Crawford, the hike was a success.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “A lot of students, a lot of enthusiasm. It’s just exciting to see so many people passionate about the environment.”
As the students parted ways at the end of the hike, each received a T-shirt and a Chipotle gift card from the Crawfords.
Coffman said the event was a success, and she hopes to keep it going in the future.
“I’m very happy with the turnout,” Coffman said. “It’s definitely something that I hope to possibly do again next year, and I’m so grateful that everyone was able to come out and go on the trails.”
For their part, President Crawford is confident that Ivy and Newton would be willing to go again, too.
“They love it,” he said. “They love the water.”