Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trail to Trail: Leave No Trace on the Boulder Face

ATC's new Appalachian Trail Journeys has an article on Graffiti this issue.  This post by Alison is a great complement to the issue!
Post by: Alison Saeger Panik
Teacher, Grade 5
Seven Generations Charter School

We are in the investigation phase of our service learning project now -- testing out methods for restoring vandalized boulders on the trail. My students have identified several solutions they would like to evaluate: 
  • spray painting over the graffiti (This is the current method used by the local conservancy group.)
  • chisels and wire brushes
  • power washing (We found a community partner with a power washing business!)
  • biodegradable graffiti removal product (Aptly named "The World's Best Graffiti Remover")

The children plan to evaluate the effect of each method on the environment, the effectiveness (is the graffiti gone?), the cost, and the difficulty (energy factor). This week we are going up on South Mountain to measure the distance from the boulders to the nearest access road, which we believe may be on privately-owned land. That will add another step into our plan, but we are prepared to contact that person if we need to. We also plan to test the chisels and wire brushes while we are up there for a full-day hike.

On Wednesday we also have two unique opportunities to spread our message against graffiti on the trails. On Wednesday morning we will be presenting to our school (grades K-5) about the issue. Groups of students will be teaching the school community a song about graffiti and performing a skit/presentation regarding the issue. Then in the evening our school is having an open house for the community in which we will display the work we've done so far and ask for input from the community. We have a graffiti wall in our plan, of course, with a clear message that there is a difference between graffiti ART and graffiti VANDALISM. In addition, we created anti-graffiti t-shirts last week, which display the message "AN EARTH THAT IS CLEAN IS GRAFFITI-FREE" (designed by one of my students and reproduced on 45 t-shirts.) We designed one for each student in our class and an additional 22 for teenagers to wear to spread our message to their peers.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Plenty of Time to Ponder

Post by: HodgeDiversified MindsFront Royal, VA
            One of the key features that attracted me to the Trail to Every Classroom program was the initial word, TRAIL. As someone who has been immersed in the trails culture for about 5 years, I knew that this opportunity was just for me! For me, and in my community, the trail has the potential to be so much more than the current reputation it holds. Especially since our town will be creating connector trails from the town that will hook up with the Shenandoah National Park and the Appalachian Trail.
            Each summer I spend 30+ days in the backcountry across the country leading a group of high school-aged persons to learn about trail maintenance, sustainability, community, responsibility, and other key attributes to promote the next generation of stewards for our Earth. I want to be able to bring these experiences, plus the knowledge I gain throughout this year with TTEC and bring a resurgence of excitement in my classroom and community. This summer I had been more isolated than in any other place I have been to in the past. This time away from internet, cell phones, and other distractions, helped me focus in on what I wanted to try and accomplish with the TTEC program in my school. Some of the ideas I came up with included:
·         Outdoor adventure clubs
o   Hiking
o   Camping
o   Trail Maintenance
·         Trail maintenance
·         Outdoor classrooms
·         Creating quests
·         Various field experience opportunities
o   Sampling biotic communities
o   Naturalists trips
o   Stream Ecology

I am excited to see all of the participants from up and down the Appalachian Trail this summer and observe all of their great ideas for implementing this program into their own schools.

North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald