Blazing hot opportunities afoot in Kalkaska

A little over two years ago, Norte started to ask how we could help weave a culture of health into the fabric of Northern Michigan. So, to branch out from our home base in Traverse City, we started to ask communities how we could help. One of the communities to raise their hand and embrace the vision of a happier, healthier, and stronger community was Kalkaska. Since then, Blazer Nation has made enormous strides.

This past spring, we rolled out three new successful programs, the Kalkaska branch of the Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Libray, Blazer Nation’s first Mountain Bike program, and a successful Safe Routes to School mini-grant application.

First, in March, we launched a new bike library out of the Kalkaska Police station. The library enjoyed a jump start with a donation of 45 bikes from McLain Cycle & Fitness. The bikes have been rolling out the door. We even have dreams for a proper bike shed soon.

Second, in May, young riders in the village learned some new skills and explored parts of Kalkaska many hadn’t explored before in the spring Mountain Bike program. Again, coach Lauren tore it up with a team of great coaches and inspiring kids. Look for Mountain Bike season again this fall.

This spring, we also worked with three schools—Cherry Street Intermediate, Birch Street Elementary, and Kalkaska Middle School—to apply for a Safe Routes to School mini-grant. We’re thrilled to announce that we were successful. It’s a little too close to the end of the school year to say it, but we’re super excited for the next school year to begin. Of course, we’re also happy to enjoy a little summer first.

Speaking of which, this summer, we’re thrilled to be partnering with our friends at SEEDS to offer a summer bike camp experience in Kalkaska. Through the partnership, Norte coaches will integrate into SEEDS summer camp at Cherry Intermediate. As a result, in addition to the hands-on environmental education SEEDS delivers, campers will also get some feet-on-pedals education by rolling with Norte.

All of this wouldn’t be possible without some great local champions speaking up and representing Blazer Nation. Village manager Scott Yost, Kathy Wilkinson, and Aaron Popa are only three among many showing genuine love for their community in Kalkaska.

We also need to shout out immense appreciation to The Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation RegionBlue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, and Cherry Capital Cycling Club. All four organizations provided critical seed money to help launch Kalkaska Strong in the fall of 2019.

Onward and upward in Kalkaska and beyond. From all of us at Norte, thank you, everyone, for your continued support to make work like this possible. Go Blazers!


Norte is committed to supporting our local health departments, public health professionals, Norte staff, and patrons. Please help us prevent the spread and follow precautions, practice healthy hygiene, and get vaccinated.