Left to Right: Gabriel Bjergaard, NDPRD Grants Assistant; Kurt Ziebarth, TL-M Principal; Shelia Schlafmann TL-M Superintendent, Char Langehaug, NDPRD Grants Coordinator

The Turtle-Lake Mercer (TL-M) Public School applied to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program to improve their playground after two large evergreens fell onto the large play structure after a storm in 2020. “It was difficult to try to figure out all of the resources needed to fund the playground after the large play structure was damaged by the fallen trees, but we are here now and the kids love it,” Superintendent, Sheila Schlafmann explained. As a bonus, the students of TL-M Public School were able to choose the color theme of the playground and were thrilled when they found out the new playground included a zipline. “I like to use the zipline, but my favorite is the puker (modern merry-go-round) because I go so fast that my shoes fly off,” Lane (Age: 7), student told us at the Playground Ribbon “Running” Ceremony.

Just to give a little background on the grant program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a 50/50 matching grant reimbursement program administered at the state level by the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department (NDPRD) and funded at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS). The LWCF provides grants for outdoor recreation projects such as ball fields, pools, campgrounds, playgrounds, and land acquisitions for park development. Specifically, this project involved the improvement of the already existing school playground.

You can already tell that the playground is well-loved by the communities of Turtle Lake and Mercer. At the final ribbon “running” ceremony there were kids on every part of the playground. The playground renovation includes a zip line, modern merry-go-round, climbing structure, accessible swings, two separate playground sets with slides and pillow soft engineered fiber surfacing. “We are so excited to see the kids enjoy all of the new playground features. When their parents/grandparents pick them up from school, we see families enjoying it too,” Superintendent Schlafmann explained.