Monday, October 24, 2011

Central Academy Middle School's day on the A.T.

Check out the Animoto video created by Central Academy Middle School from their day on the Appalachian Trail:

On Friday, September 30, almost 200 Central Academy Middle School sixth grade students, teachers and community members went into the woods to experience a day of outdoor learning and discovery. They hiked, visited creeks and conducted experiments at various sites in the Jefferson National Forest near Arcadia. At Jennings Creek, students smashed rocks (intentionally), studying Geology with Claire Stull; they played in the creek while looking for aquatic macroinvertebrates with the Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District’s outreach educator Erica Moore; they participated in authentic box turtle data collection for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries with Wendy Grimshaw, conducted water quality testing for World Water Monitoring Day with Tim Miller, and interviewed two “real” AT section hikers who just happened along. At the Forest Service shelter near Middle Creek, students listened to amazing stories native to our mountain region from “Tales in Tandem” Appalachian storytellers Joan and Mack Swift. Eighth grade Journey students, along with their teacher Ashley Theimer, provided interesting “hip pocket” trail activities for the sixth graders after the stories. At Little Cove Mountain Trail, students practiced Leave No Trace outdoor principles with Angie Sheldon from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and learned from Appalachian Trail thru-hikers Homer and Therese Witcher just how important it is in life (as in hiking) to just keep moving forward, even in the face of adversity. None of this could have happened inside the walls of a school.

Educators Wendy Grimshaw, Tim Miller and Lisa Moyer planned these learning experiences after participating in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s “Trail to Every Classroom” (TTEC) training over the summer. The activities would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and support of the volunteers as well as educators Vicky Campbell, Christy Clonch, Leslie Dunbar, Tony Lewis, Rhyanna Moran, Myra Petty, Andrea Rahall, Laura Trumbo, Connie Woodson and Missy Young. The CAMS PTA generously provided for the Appalachian storytellers, and Principal Tim McClung offered ongoing support for the endeavor. Students were enthusiastically immersed in learning, and when asked about their day, students commented, “We learn better because we’re having fun, so we listen more,” and “We got hands-on experience that you can’t get in the classroom.” Students, teachers and volunteers are looking forward to another trip to the woods in the spring.

–Lisa Moyer, Gifted Resource Teacher @ Central Academy MS

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Youth Service America Grants Available

UnitedHealth HEROES Grants
Deadline Extended: October 23

The UnitedHealth HEROES program is a service-learning, health literacy initiative that awards grants to help youth, ages 5-25, create and implement local, hands-on programs to fight childhood obesity. The grants encourage semester-long projects that launch on MLK Day of Service  and culminate on Global Youth Service Day. Schools, service-learning coordinators, non-profits, and students in the health professions located in all 50 states and theDistrict of Columbia are eligible to apply for the $500 - $1,000 grants. Learn more at        

State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning Grants
Deadline: November 9

State Farm™ is proud to team up with YSA to offer grants of up to $1,000 for service-learning projects in K-12 public schools in all fifty US states and the District of Columbia, and in the Canadian provinces of AlbertaOntario and New Brunswick. The State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning Grants encourage semester-long projects (a Semester of Service) that launch on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service (January 16, 2012) and culminate on Global Youth Service Day (April 20-22, 2012). Up to 125 grants will be awarded; at least 10-15 grants will support projects addressing teen driver safety issues. Learn more at     

MLK Day Lead Organizer Grants
Deadline: November 18

YSA and CNCS are proud to support up to 16 MLK Day Lead Organizers with $4,000 planning grants to coordinate Martin Luther King Day of Service (January 16, 2012) activities. This grant program is open to nonprofit organizations, K-12 schools, and colleges & universities in all 50 states and DC. Grantees will be required to engage at least 3,000 volunteers in community service or service-learning projects on MLK Day, build or strengthen partnerships with at least 5 partner organizations, and address one or more strategic issue areas. Learn

Michael Minks
Director of Outreach & Innovation
YSA (Youth Service America)
Michael Minks
Director of Outreach and Innovation
YSA (Youth Service 
1101 15th Street, NW, Suite 200 | WashingtonDC 20005
P:             202-296-2992       ext. 125 | F: 202-296-4030

Monday, October 17, 2011

Virginia Fall Workshop

The Virginia Fall Workshop was a great success and a lot of fun! We were fortunate to spend a beautiful weekend at Wilderness Adventures, October 14-15. The colorful leaves were at a peak and we had two warm, sunny days. Friday morning started off with sharing curriculum and meeting with a panel of partners from several Virginia trail maintaining clubs, the US Forest Service and Mountain Lake Conservancy. It was inspiring to hear the projects and activities some of the teachers had already done with their students and so exciting to hear everyone's plans for the future. A lot of great connections were made between the teachers and partners and they look forward to collaborating on their projects.
We moved the classroom outside and learned some new, fun Hip Pocket activities that are a great way to engage students in the natural world and don't require too much planning or supplies. Several of the teachers were having so much fun, they said it felt like they were playing hookie from school! We continued the afternoon with an informative presentation on Communications & Media lead by Matt and Courtney from Virginia Tech. They shared tips for getting our TTEC stories into the local media's hands and what makes it stand out. Pat Woods joined us to talk about turning in curriculum and answered questions about graduate credit. The rest of the evening was spent on working on curriculum and of course heading out to the zipline!

Saturday morning we were joined by Dustin Eshelman who lead us on a beautiful hike and introduced some really important Hike Leadership techniques and practices. Chip Donahue (TTEC Alum and Advisory Council member) joined us as well and shared some of his vast knowledge on hiking with youth. We learned some more activities as well as important safety precautions and planning tips that will be really useful when taking students out on the A.T.

We headed inside to grab lunch and talk about the what to look for during the TTEC Alumni Year in 2012. Everyone took their time in filling out the evaluations forms that will help us to continue to make this program the best it can be, which was much appreciated. We had a final silent hike out to the gazebo on the pond, looking up at the beautiful ridgeline where we had our closing ceremony and handed out certificates. We all lingered for awhile out on the pond, wishing we could stay longer! Thanks again to all of the teachers who have put so much time and energy into the Trail to Every Classroom program this year and to all of our wonderful partners who make this program possible. I look forward to seeing you all in 2012!

Check out more photos from our weekend here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Check out this great interview with TTEC alumni, Jennifer Moulton, who was the 2011 Teacher-Ranger-Teacher on the White Mountain National Forest!

North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald