The local chapter of Trips for Kids, a national nonprofit organization, held its first outing on June 3 to Rancho Oso off Paradise Road with a group of 12 Jonata Middle School students. The program is for children 11 to 16 years old from Buellton and around the Santa Ynez Valley.

Paul Smith, a devoted mountain biker and cyclist who works with youth at the recreation center, began the program.

He said Trips for Kids is meant to expose young people “to a positive outlet amongst friends and mentors while giving students a deeper love and appreciation for Santa Barbara County’s back trails.”

During the year, Trips for Kids will use mountain bikes donated by Trek Bicycle Corporation.

Each trip is designed to highlight “the benefits of an active lifestyle, environmental conservation and importance of their actions both on the trails and at home,” according to organizers.

The vision for the program, according to city officials, “is to use mountain biking as an instrument for teaching kids lessons in personal responsibility, self-empowerment, achievement, environmental awareness, physical fitness, and community service so they are equipped with tools for building positive accomplishments and relationships within their communities and their lives.”

More volunteers, donations and sponsors will be needed to serve more youth, Smith said. Owners of local ranches with accessible trails or fire roads who are willing to host a ride would also be appreciated, he added.

Groups interested in participating can call Paul Smith at 688-1086. He is also the contact to make a donation or to volunteer.

For more information on Trips for Kids, visit www.tripsforkids.org.