Ben Herland loves to bike, and now he’s hoping some exposure to bicycling will kindle that love in some of his students at TJ Walker Middle School in Sturgeon Bay.
The physical education teacher introduced a bicycling class to the physical education curriculum to help add more life-long fitness activities to the roster. The new bicycling unit emphasizes bicycle skills and safety on the road and on the trail.
“The fun part of this is that a lot of people assume everyone knows how to bike, but that’s not true,” Herland said. “It’s been pleasantly surprising how many avid bikers there were, but there were probably 15% that weren’t riding or didn’t know how.”
Ultimately, he said his goal is to teach kids to ride safely on the street – where many of them ride now – and expose them to the fun of trail riding.
“Especially up here in Door County with five state parks and the trails and bicycling events we have, it’s something they can enjoy beyond class,” Herland said.
To get the class off the ground Herland applied for several grants and got support from area businesses. The Bike Hub in Green Bay gave the school a discount on 27 bikes; Door County Silent Sports donated helmets; and additional financial support came from Door County Medical Center; the Wisconsin Health and Physical Education State Association; and the Raibrook Foundation.
In the spring, Herland aims to take the class on mountain-biking field trips to the state parks, and Snowkraft, a private-trail facility north of Sturgeon Bay.
“I love biking, so it’s fun as a teacher to share something you love to do,” Herland said.