Friday, June 7, 2013

Invasive Species Awareness Day in Franklin, NC

Post by Mary Bennett

On April 3, 2013, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee River and the Friends of the Franklin Greenway co-sponsored the Invasive Species Awareness Day along the Greenway Walking Path beside the Little Tennessee River.  Duke Energy provided financial support and Franklin AT Ambassador, Mary Bennett, was contacted as event coordinator. 
Approximately 250 students in grades 5-12,  from 4 educational institutions (Oconaluftee Job Corps, Macon Early College, Franklin High School and Mountain View Intermediate School ) participated in outdoor Invasive Species Awareness Day spring event. 
Invasive Species Awareness Day water quality presentation from WATR – Watershed Association of the Tuckaseegee River.

Interactive Educational Presentation Stations hosted by ten professional conservation organizations, private contractors, from local nonprofits to state and federal government agencies engaged student groups on a wealth of aspects surrounding the of issues invasive species.  Small groups of students (about 8-12 per group) rotated through a series of hands- on learning stations addressing the concerns of invasive species, including plants and animals, identification, history, and management solutions.  Pre-activity information, instructional materials and web links on “Invasives” were provided to teachers in advance of event day.
US Fish & Wildlife rep illustrates clam life cycles to elementary school students
 Each station, presented a topic unique aspect of invasive species ranging from plants, plant pathogens, insects, clams, fish, mammals, soil erosion, water quality, animal adaptations, feral cats and dogs skulls, etc.  Presenters utilized visual aids, natural artifacts, question and answer, guessing activities and scientific observation and analysis to engage students in understanding.

Students study the plant stems of native and non native plants along the Little Tennessee River.

Two additional instructional methods were included during the day: Service Learning and Cross Age Tutoring.  The high school students in Agricultural Education and the Job Corps trainees gained valuable skill development by assisting in the removal of Kudzu near the edge of the Greenway.  Students learned about the tools required for the specific job and cleared the area and followed up with erosion control grass seeding and straw coverage.  These young adults provided a community service to the local community.

The Early College students developed valuable leadership skills by conducting multiple engaging and highly interactive activities for the younger school students.  The students created hands-on learning lessons that allowed every child attending a chance to test knowledge of native versus nonnative species, build a water filter, identify a watershed, a food web and examine bones, branches and shells.  The interaction of teenagers with “tween agers” enriched the experiential learning process.

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North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald