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What’s in it for me?: Part I – For those interested in the outdoors. And nature.

As autumn begins to reign in southeastern South Dakota, the time for outdoor recreational activities is starting to come to a close.

But before the snow flies, University of South Dakota students still have the chance to take advantage of some of those activities that will get a body out of a desk and into the fresh air.

Vermillion offers four main parks throughout the city:

•Prentis Park: located along Prentis Ave. to the east, Plum St. to the west, Clark St. to the north and Main St. to the south. Probably considered the most popular park in town, Prentis offers picnic shelters, playground equipment, a baseball field, a swimming pool, basketball courts and a disc golf course.

•Barstow Park: located south of Cherry St. across from Hy-Vee, Barstow offers tennis courts, baseball fields and soccer fields. It also has a newly-installed disc golf course, volleyball courts and playground equipment. For the first time this year, a skate park has been opened, and an ice skating rink will be available this winter.

•Lions Park: located South of Cherry Street next to Barstow Park, Lions is primarily the camping park in town. It also has playground equipment and a softball field.

•Cotton Park: located in “lower Verm,” this park serves as the gateway to the walking and biking trails along the Vermillion River. Cotton Park also offers a soccer field, the town’s only dog park, a fishing pier and playground equipment.
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City parks are a good way for students and the community to develop a working relationship, says Jessica Kennedy, the Vermillion parks assistant supervisor. But Kennedy warned students to be aware of certain responsibilities.

“The big thing is the cleanup of it,” she says. “It’s not just college students, it’s just people in general.”

Many students are unaware of the opportunities available throughout the city, says junior Carrie Theis who sometimes plays ultimate Frisbee in Prentis Park. The Ultimate Frisbee Club member says using the parks is a great way to relieve college stress.

“It’s a good way to meet other students and members of the community,” she says.

Fifth-year student Collin Smith is used to a good parks and recreation system back home in Pierre, S.D. He says knowledge and use of city parks is important for everyone – college students and community members alike.

“It opens up the horizons for kids here,” he says. “It gives you more availability.”

Even though many students don’t know what opportunities exist, Smith says it’s part of students’ responsibility to be familiar with the community.

“You’re a USD student, but you’re also a part of the community, and you should know the city you’re living in,” Smith says.