Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, our club has supported the environmental science department at the Greater Latrobe School District in their efforts to address eroding stream banks along Nine Mile Run as it flows through Rotary Park. Over a three-year period, more than two hundred high school students worked to install nineteen log strucures that stabilize the banks and direct the water flow to improve fish habitats. Not only has their effort minimized erosion, but the number of fish species has increased from nine in 2007 to twenty-two in 2010. In the process, students have learned to connect classroom concepts with real-life solutions to environmental problems.
As the Rotary Club of Latrobe approached its 75th Anniversary year in 1996, members began looking for an appropriate project to crown its seventy-five years of service to the community. A committee made up of past presidents of the club proposed that the club seek the approval of the Greater Latrobe School District to improve the facilities at the Youngstown Field, a parcel owned by the school district and located near the Greater Latrobe Junior/Senior High School campus. At a meeting of the Greater Latrobe Board of Education on August 9, 1995, a proposal was made by the club and accepted by the board. The project was set in motion when the Rotary Club committed $75,000 over five years to make the improvements. The school district in return agreed that the area would be named the LATROBE ROTARY COMMUNITY PARK/SCHOOL.
The vision was to provide a quality sports and recreation area for the school and the community and also to become an “outdoor classroom” for environmental study. The first phase of the project included the installation of water and electric lines, a road and parking spaces, security lighting, and signage. In addition, the previously existing softball and soccer field was moved and upgraded, and an additional one of each was constructed. In the decade and a half since the initial phase was implemented, the club has undertaken several large projects to improve the functionality of the park. A 30×60 foot pavilion with all utilities, picnic tables, a serving counter, and secure storage area was built in an area that was once covered by dying trees and poison ivy. Later, brick walkways were laid around the pavilion, and restroom facilities were installed nearby.