Andover Augusta Rail Trail Initiative Inc. began in 2014 on a mission to improve the community by creating a trail. The Redbud Trail is now about 6 miles long in the Andover community area and currently connects into Wichita, then hopefully extending into Augusta. Our team hopes that one day it will grow to 20 miles. AARTI was created as a not for profit holding 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. We seek to raise funds for the continued improvement and expansion of the Redbud Trail. Currently, we are raising funds to match several grants that will help us add a restroom area and make other major developments to the trail.
In addition to monetary donations, we greatly appreciate the community volunteering their time on the trail. We are extremely fortunate to be a part of such a tight-knit community. Community members will help us pull weeds when walking on the trail, trim branches that are sticking out or even just pick up trash. We appreciate our community partners working to maintain the trail while they are out enjoying it.
Our organization creates a unified and responsive environment so we can effectively develop and improve the Redbud Trail. This group allows us to demonstrate our dedication to this project. We show this commitment through promoting, sponsoring, and collaborating with other organizations or independently to lead activities such as educational efforts, to encourage safe and active biking, running, and walking on the trail.
Words from the Board
I’m Kim, current President of AARTI and I’ve been a part of the organization since 2016. I’ve spent my life in the Andover community. As an avid runner, I’ve logged many miles on county roads, longing to explore and get away from traffic and concrete. My connection to nature is spiritual and a daily necessity. As our community continues to grow, more and more pressure is put on our county roads and more and more vehicular traffic creates an unsafe situation for pedestrians. I joined AARTI to work on providing my community with a safe solution. My community needs the opportunity to explore nature, leaving traffic and concrete behind. It makes us all better humans. I enjoy collaborating with leaders of government, the business community, other not for profit organizations, landowners, residents, trail users and volunteers to accomplish our goals. Welcome to the Redbud Trail. I can’t wait to continue to add more miles. With your help, we can do it. I’ll always say hello when I see you on the Redbud Trail. I ask that you be a good steward of the resource and give a courtesy “On the Left” when you come up behind me to pass. See you out there!
– Kim Austin, President
Hi! I’m Melissa Woody and currently the Vice President of AARTI. I was interested in the Rails to Trails movement years ago, when I lived in DC and was an active bicyclist. Grad school, marriage, and kids put that on a back-burner briefly. About 5 years ago, I saw a call for volunteers on Facebook to begin clearing the next portion of the Redbud Trail. I showed up and worked my tail off that day. It felt good to get out and help the community and be a part of something that my great-grandchildren will hopefully enjoy one day. Even though I eventually became a board member, I must confess, I no longer considered myself an active cyclist and I sure wasn’t a runner. I tell you this because I want you to know that you don’t have to be a fit, outdoorsy type to be on our board; anyone is welcome! Watch out though, we might draw you in… Since being involved with AARTI, I’ve dusted off the old bike, and have thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of our labor. I encourage anyone that has ever used the trail to at least come out once for a workday. Kids of all ages and abilities are welcome to come work with their parents on most days. The majority of the work is trash pick-up and the trimming of overhang, but we can use people of all talents!! Are you good with – fundraising, web development, graphic design, expansion, data, flora/fauna, etc. If so, there is space for you too! You don’t have to get physical to help develop and expand this great trail!
– Melissa Woody, Vice President
We are board members at AARTI. We were very interested in the trail because we love to ride bikes and live next to the trail. The best thing about the trail for us as senior citizens, is that the trail is a safe place to ride and it’s so beautiful. Soon the honeysuckle will be blooming, plants and trees turning green creating such peaceful areas. We’ve made so many new friends and met many of our neighbors on the trail. By being part of AARTI we’ve met very amazing people with unbelievable talents. It’s also connected us with our community.
– Hoot & Helen Gibson, Board Members
Hi, I’m Lois. Currently I serve AARTI as the treasurer. I joined AARTI in 2014 because it gave me an opportunity to give back to the community that is my home town. It has given me the chance to work with a dedicated & remarkable group of volunteers who not only give their money in support of the RedBud Trail but more importantly their time & energy. Seeing the RedBud Trail completed from Andover to Highway 400 has been both exciting & fulfilling. The truly amazing thing is seeing our community & others biking, running & walking the trail. Hope to see you on the RedBud!
– Lois Neufeld, Treasurer
The Redbud Trail is a project I have envisioned ever since the last train went through sometime in the late 80’s. Fast forward a decade and Prairie Travelers was formed with the intention of developing the Redbud Trail, however since Sedgwick and Butler County were not open to the idea of a trail at the time, we headed to the west side of Wichita and following several years of negotiations with both the railroad company and Sedgwick County we developed the 15-mile Prairie Sunset Trail. It took another decade before interest developed from both public officials in Andover and Augusta, in which a core group was formed named AARTI, to develop the Redbud Trail as part of Andover’s “Park System and Open Space Master Plan.” Being a Board member allows me to be involved in both trails and work with fundraising and special projects, such as hosting a team from AmeriCorps National Civilian Conservation Corps for a 13-week assignment 5 years ago to help clear the trail as well as coordinating two annual bicycle rides that are shared fundraisers, the Wicked Wind 100K and the Walnut Valley Metric. My vision is that with trails we connect neighbors and communities to promote healthy, active lifestyles and provide critical habitat for wildlife and more importantly in this hectic world, allow nature to touch and restore us. As co-owner of Bicycle Pedaler, we get very positive feedback from everyday users. Trails are an important investment in our quality of life now and for generations to come!
– Ruth Holliday, Board Member
Three years ago I volunteered to help maintain and promote the AARTI Facebook page. Having very little experience using Facebook, it took a little time to master the functions of the app. Learning more of the history of the trail from the charter AARTI volunteers, increased my ability to create and publish information about the trail that people were searching for. We doubled our metrics in a matter of months, and we have experienced steady growth every year. My most memorable event was passing out train whistles at the Greater Andover Days parade.We designed special whistles for the Rail-To-Trails. It was nice to see the kids having fun with them and letting people know about the trail. I enjoy getting together with the other volunteers (now friends) raking, clearing brush, and cleaning up the trail to help create an enjoyable, safe trail for all it’s users. Rick and I are active advocates working to expand and promote the Andover Augusta Redbud Trail and all Rails-to-Trails. I BELIEVE in our vision, to connect the Redbud Trail to the City of Augusta. So many of our Facebook followers are anxious for that to happen. AARTI is an all volunteer organization and we are always looking for more friendly faces to help us maintain the trail. The Web and Facebook media are important tools that allow us to reach out to our community with the latest trail developments. Facebook allows us to reach out and connect with our community to share our vision for expansion so that future generations will be able to create some great memories of the Redbud Trail. I’m glad to have been a part of creating this legacy.
– Donna Carrell, Dedicated Volunteer
In 1970, I returned home after spending four years in Germany. I enrolled in school and went to work in the family business. Across the street from my work there was a bike shop. One day I wandered into the shop just to look around and was immediately greeted by Ruth and “Doc” Holliday, the owners of Bicycle Pedaler. That’s where my passion for cycling started. I bought my first Cannondale from my new friends, and signed up for my first BAK. That was a lifetime ago, time has a way of changing our lives. During my working years I rode whenever I had the opportunity. Finally the day arrived when retirement became a reality. I jumped on the bike and began to ride much more seriously. I quickly realized I couldn’t ride all the time, so I looked for other ways to spend my time. I returned to the place this riding thing started, the Bicycle Pedaler. Ruth asked if I was familiar with Rails-To-Trails, that was the start of my involvement with AARTI. I currently serve as Secretary, and I am also involved with Advocacy for the trail. Our biggest challenge is getting a bridge over US 400 to connect the City of Augusta. AARTI has a great partnership with the City of Andover in maintaining the Redbud Trail. We have some very dedicated volunteers that give selflessly to maintain the trail. We are always encouraged when we see walkers, joggers, and bicyclists taking advantage of this great community resource. “Thank You” for supporting AARTI and spread the word!
– Rick Sroufe, Secretary
Hello – I’m Barry; I’m one of the founding board members of the Andover Augusta Rail Trail Initiative [AARTI]. My wife, Nancy, grew up in Andover and her grandfather opened the ‘Malcom Garage’ at Central and Andover Road. I am passionate about cycling and walking. I love being on the Redbud Trail with my family and friends. AARTI is an IRS, tax-exempt, 501c3, non-profit organization. Everyone on the board is a volunteer and we have no paid staff. I am proud of the good work of our volunteers. Our organization appreciates our elected officials and staff in Andover, Augusta, and Butler County. I would like to encourage you to join our movement, volunteer, meet new people, make friends, donate time, money, but more importantly, get outdoors, and have some fun! I will see you on the Redbud Trail!
– Barry Carroll, Board Member
Hello, I’m Mark. I joined the AARTI board in 2020. I have lived in the Andover/Wichita area for 32 years. I have had a love for bicycles and the outdoors all of my life. I still remember my Red Schwinn Stingray. I became an avid cyclist in 1989. Over the past 31 years, I have managed to complete 20 BAK’s (Biking Across Kansas) and ridden my bike in all 105 counties in Kansas. I’m not sure there is a better way to see and explore the great state of Kansas. I believe that riding a bike brings a sense of freedom and accomplishment with every ride. Walking, running, and cycling are proven methods to promote one’s mental and physical health. I have been encouraged by the increasing number of rail-trails in Kansas. It is especially encouraging to see the growing number of people using the Redbud trail each day! I look forward to watching and participating in the future development of AARTI, and as always meeting new people along the trail. Ride safe, ride often, enjoy the journey, and watch for the beauty that surrounds us!
– Mark Probert, Board Member