NCI at Frederick Employees Take a Hike Through History

Story and photos by Chris Worthington, staff writer
One of the signs detailing the history of Fort Detrick, with a yellow tree in the background.

On a blustery November morning, NCI at Frederick and Frederick National Laboratory employees bundled up and walked a 1.5-mile course around the Fort Detrick campus while learning about its history.

The final Take a Hike event of 2018 was the first organized by Mia Bjelogrlic, the newest nurse in Occupational Health Services and the new head of NCI at Frederick’s employee wellness efforts. She decided on the theme and created more than a dozen signs describing important moments in the history and development of Fort Detrick.

“My husband and I are both relatively new to Leidos Biomed and have talked about some of the obvious relics of Fort Detrick’s past,” said Bjelogrlic. “I think these conversations sparked a curiosity in both of us about Fort Detrick’s overall history. While talking to him about my first ‘Take a Hike’ event, I mentioned that I would like to recruit more participants to it, perhaps some that wouldn’t typically be interested in doing the walk. He suggested incorporating the history of Fort Detrick, so I took the idea and enthusiastically ran with it.”

Bjelogrlic consulted the Scientific Library, Frederick News-Post, Washington Post, and FNL’s own Sam Lopez, whose recent Insite series covered the early history of the federally funded research and development center that came to be known as the Frederick National Laboratory. She also sourced several old photographs from the NIH History Office.

“I thought I was up against people who know more about this campus than I would ever know, no matter how many books I read. Luckily, there seems to be plenty of people who found the information new and interesting. I was even asked for copies of the information on the posters, and I certainly took that as a compliment. I have created the posters in PowerPoint and am more than happy to give copies away for anyone interested.”

Bjelogrlic hopes the Take a Hike events will encourage employees to exercise by providing a specific time and place as well as a safe route to walk. Experts recommend that adults partake in at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity each week (roughly 20 minutes each day).

“We want to be an accessible source that provides an easy way to participate in wellness activities. Take a Hike is just one activity that is offered by us, and the more we can offer and the more participation we achieve, the more we foster a culture of wellness on campus,” said Bjelogrlic.

She added that OHS needs feedback about what employees want from the wellness program and encouraged people to fill out the survey at the OHS office in Building 426. Emails and phone calls are welcome, too, and Bjelogrlic can be reached at or 301-846-5478.

Fall 2018 OHS Take a Hike event.Fall 2018 OHS Take a Hike event.Fall 2018 OHS Take a Hike event.Fall 2018 OHS Take a Hike event.