Students took classroom challenge to community to build Eureka dog park

By Holly Eitenmiller For Chronicle Media

Eureka Mayor Scott Zimmer was on hand June 6 for the official opening of Eureka Bark Park. Plans for the park began in 2015 as a middle school project for students Marissa Herrmann and Kelsey McClallen, above. Herrmann was unable to attend the ceremony. (Photo by Holly Eitenmiller / for Chronicle Media)

If teachers could assign a grade higher than an A+, Kelsey McClallen and Marissa Herrmann certainly would have earned it for taking a seventh-grade project all the way to the park.

“We just love dogs and we felt the need to give back to them and show how much we appreciate them,” said McClallen at the June 6 grand opening ceremony hosted by Eureka Mayor Scott Zimmer at Eureka Lake Bark Park.

Herrmann was unable to attend.

The pair, both now sophomores at Eureka High School, were handed an assignment by Social Studies teacher Cheri Ogg in 2015 dubbed “Students Engage.”

It was Ogg’s first in a series of annual projects that challenge students to make the school, community or world a better place.


So, the girls put their heads together and came up with a plan for an all-inclusive dog park; fences portioning off dogs by weight, handy potty bag dispensers, trash cans, and a fire hydrant for thirsty dogs.

“It took a lot of time and effort,” Eureka Parks Committee Chairman Chuck Germann said at the ceremony. “Handshakes, door knocking. Everything to get people to give whatever they could give.”

Herrmann and McClallen were only required to create a persuasive presentation, including cost projections and plans, then present it to someone influential for an opinion. They brought it to former Eureka Mayor Scott Punke, who persuaded them to bring it before the Parks Committee, and from there it came to life.

Nearly the size of a football field, Eureka Bark Park officially opened June 6 on the upper region of Eureka Lake. The land was granted to students Eureka Middle School students Marissa Herrmann and Kelsey McCalllen in May 2016 to develop a community dog park as part of a school assignment. (Photo by Holly Eitenmiller / for Chronicle Media)

Eureka Bark Park is nearly the size of a football field, cost $30,000 to construct, and the money wasn’t easy to come by. Despite help from Eureka’s Amber Harmon in writing grants, the project was rejected on two occasions for grant dollars.

Still, the students and their growing group of supporters, persisted. The Parks Committee donated the land. Susan Bressner held two quarter auctions, one of which raised more than $1,500.

“The quarter auctions were a big help, and we also had sponsorships in the community,” McClallen said. “There were a few companies who gave us a lot of money.”

Lisa Zimmer hosted a dog costume contest near Halloween. City Administrator Melissa Brown was instrumental in guiding the girls through the park’s legal processes. Rusty Krause and a team installed all equipment.

Of particular importance was recognition of the late Eureka Rotary Club President Mark Scott, who passed away May 2, 2017. Scott, who counted among his loved ones his dog Tippy, adopted the plan, choosing it as the Rotary Club’s President’s Barrel project.

“He supported the girls, invited them to the club. He loved dogs,” Mayor Zimmer said. “He encouraged us to give, and we all gave He was very passionate about it.”

Stella and Max Wilson brought their dog Luna, a rescue dog, to Eureka Bark Park June 6 for its grand opening. Among the donors to the park are Eureka Community Bank, Eureka Rotary Club, Hohulin Fence and Heartland Bank and Trust Company. (Photo by Holly Eitenmiller / for Chronicle Media)

Current Rotary President Diane Gregoire Chose as her “Barrel” to plant a tree in Eureka for every Rotary member, beginning with Mark Scott. The tree is located on a rise near the south end of the dog park, and it was dedicated during the ceremony.

The Rotary Club is listed among the donors on a sign posted at park. Also listed are Eureka Community Bank, Hohulin Fence, and 12 other donors.

Through that outpouring of community generosity, the Bark Park was created, and It has all of the amenities the girls wanted. So, what did McClallen and Herrmann gain from this assignment, other than a good grade?

“There’s a lot of negotiating, and definitely a lot of meetings involved,” McClallen admitted. “I learned a lot about communication and getting the right information to the right people.”





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