Lost Sierra Hoedown service learning project works to raise funds for re-opening historic ski hill

The Lost Sierra Hoedown is part of a Service Learning Project led by a team of three Interdisciplinary students: Cody Wilkins, Rachael Blum, and Drew Fisher.

“The purpose of Service Learning is to give students an opportunity to create a project to gain skills and give back to the community,” said Katie Zanto, Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies. “This is the epitome of what we’re looking for in a project.”

The Lost Sierra Hoedown is scheduled to take place Sept. 20-22 at the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl, in Plumas-Eureka State Park, just an hour north of Truckee. The event will shine light on a historical and cultural treasure of the Sierra Nevada, and raise funds toward re-opening the ski hill.

“People have lost touch with the roots of skiing, and Johnsville is keeping the culture and core of the sport alive, and that’s something we are trying to support,” said Cody Wilkins, the team’s social entrepreneur.

It’s a “back to the roots” event; focused on Americana music, ski history, outdoor activity, community, and simple sustainable living. The goal is to create a little super community, where everyone can have fun and participate.

“I’m excited that the team is experimenting with creative ideas, like pairing hiking with live music,” said Zanto.

The outdoor setting features forests, lakes, rivers, streams and peaks, but it’s the profound historical presence that makes Johnsville special. According to oral history, the ski bowl was the first hill in the western hemisphere to provide skiers with uphill transportation in the 1860s, via aerial ore carts used for mining.

Event Organizer Azariah ‘Z” Reynolds remembers skiing in Johnsville when he was just three years old. “Even after the hill shut down, I continued to go up there and hike it,” said Reynolds. “When I heard that the community was working to re-open the ski hill as a non-profit, I knew I wanted to get involved.”

Sharing his extensive background in the music industry and event production, Reynolds has helped the students to make the Lost Sierra Hoedown a reality. “Everybody is so motivated and has such good ideas, it’s motivated me too,” said Reynolds. “There’s nothing but good intentions all around.”

Reynolds and the service learning team have collaborated with the Plumas-Eureka State Park Association, the Plumas Community Foundation and the Plumas Ski Club to create the infrastructure for the event.

Rachael Blum is the sustainability director of the event, and she is working to make it a one of a kind, Leave No Trace, sustainable event. “It’s going to be totally unique,” said Blum. “It’s our chance to take something and make it different; people should say they’ve never been to something like this.”

Producing the Lost Sierra Hoedown has been a tremendous endeavor, but the team is passionate about making it happen. “I’m really impressed with the level of organization, teamwork and initiative that the team has shown,” said Zanto.

“I am very excited to bring my whole family to the Lost Sierra Hoedown,” said Rosie Hackett, Director of Outdoor Adventure Leadership. “There is nothing like a good old fashioned hoedown to bring people together…stomping their heels in the dirt, smiling, and locking their elbows to dosey doe. The Hoedown allows people to slow down, disconnect their cyber lives, and to enjoy themselves. They connect…with themselves, the community, the place, and the cause.”

The service learning team would like to express tremendous gratitude for the support from Sierra Nevada College; and its faculty, advisors, and students. For more information, check out the event’s website, www.LostSierraHoedown.com.