Thursday, December 19, 2013

My TTEC Start

TTEC-Spring Mid-Atlantic Workshop
Post by Sharon Steger, Middletown High School, Middletown, MD

Our first workshop was held at the Kirkridge Retreat Center. We had the pleasure of meeting many great people including Ms. Karen Lutz, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region Appalachian Trail Conservancy, as well as a thru-hiker! I was first introduced to the ATC and later in July discovered that there is an ATC close to Middletown High, located in Harpers Ferry!
I was about to discover that Karen would be my hiking coach every step of the Trail. I very quickly learned that Myron Avery built the AT and Benton MacKaye created the vision for the AT. I learned that the Trail includes 14 states, Georgia through Maine. I am a Service Learning Fellow and was interested in finding new ways to have my students participate in outdoor activities.
The 6 principles of place-based service learning include: a. grounded in place b. real, c. empowering, d. collaborative, e. integrated, f. rigorous. Being a Biology instructor, studying concepts like endangered species, water quality, or exotic invasive plants seemed like a perfect fit! TTEC is about increasing civic responsibility, increasing volunteerism, and increasing environmental stewardship. If students help to keep the trail free of exotic invasive plants the students will then have ownership of that section of the trail. At this workshop I was reminded to “do what is important, not urgent.” It was also stressed that when asked what we teach, that we respond first by saying “kids”, and our specific curriculum second. If we expect students to get excited we as teachers must be passionate! With our enthusiasm we can make our students, administration, Board of Ed., and community “look good.” The following web site is a nice introduction for an introduction to “Leave No Trace.”
Marian Orlousky, ATC, introduced us to Phenology Monitoring on the Appalachian Trail. Phenology is the study of the timing of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages (hibernation, bud breaking or flowering, animal migrations, insect emergence). Monitoring phenology helps us understand how plants, animals and systems respond to environmental variation and changing climates. The goal of this program is to establish sites along the AT where citizen scientists can go to monitor specific plant species. “Nature’s Notebook is a great way to involve students as well as the community. gives instructions for making phenology wheels. In the evening we had the opportunity to make “bare books” into very cool journals. The next morning  we were shown what to wear and what to bring on our first hike for TTEC. 

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North Carolina NCCAT participants
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