The Toyota manufacturing megasite under construction in the Triad will also be a destination for nature lovers, thanks in part to students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. 

Portions of the 300-acre tract of woodland adjacent to the battery manufacturing facility will be converted into what’s being called an “environmental education forest” which will include a lake, overlooks and trail system.

The work is being done by students from N.C. A&T’s undergraduate landscape architecture program, the only one of its kind in the state.  

Professor Steve Rasmussen Cancian is leading the project. He says the end result will give area children the opportunity to explore the outdoors.

"It's not just creating a place that's natural, but it's actually a place that our students are intentionally designing, thinking about how young kids of color, particularly African American kids, how they have heard about and not yet experienced the forest, and might even think of it as something that's dangerous," says Cancian. "And so how do you create a place that will really make them comfortable, and enable them to create their own organic connection to nature?"

The environmental project is Toyota’s second investment in N.C. A&T. The company has also awarded a $500,000 grant to its College of Education to foster learning in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

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