Tuesday, June 25, 2013

TTEC Alumni Input Needed!

If you are a Trail To Every Classroom Alumni, we need your help!

It would be such a gift to the programming staff at ATC and NPS if you could take a SHORT (6 questions! That's it!) survey letting us know how your year was.  We cannot describe the impact of this program to funders and leaders without knowing what you're doing!

Please take a few short minutes to fill it out here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TTEC2012-13questions

Thanks for your ongoing support to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and for all you do in educating our youth!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Applayground Trail

Post by Janet Caley

Elementary students at Conestoga Christian School in Morgantown, PA  enjoyed learning and "walking" the trail for an all elementary school project. The Trail was introduced originally by some staff from the school that had hiked a section of it the previous summer. During several months for two years, the students and staff would walk around a designated course on the playground. Each time they completed a lap they received a Popsicle stick which represented 1/6 of a mile. These sticks were then added up for total miles on the trail that day averaging about 60-70 miles a time. As students progressed on the trail the progress was marked on a huge trail map as well as a number graph.  Real pictures of the trail were included on the bulletin board.  Video clips of the trail were also used along the way to allow students to see the real trail. Although we did not complete the trail after two years, we did end up walking about 1,480 miles which took us into Connecticut being a NOBO!  We also ate ice-cream when we reached the half-way mark at Pine Grove Furnace, and got mementos of some of the different states we passed through.

Announcements were made over the loudspeaker with our progress and parents were invited to join the Friday morning or afternoon walks. The final "treat" was everyone receiving a map of the trail with a challenge to get out there during the summer and get on the real Appalachian Trail!  We thought it was a great way to promote life-long fitness and to educate students and families about the Trail along with working together as a team. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Growing Connections

Post by Kristy Duris, Profile School in Bethlehem, NH

 During the past few years, my interest in the A.T. has grown and been slowly developing. I began hiking with a colleague (and now extremely close friend) within the White Mountains a couple times a week. Then I hiked all of the 48 four thousand foot mountains in NH. And then I kept hiking, getting out the the trails as much as I could, whether it be in the spring, summer, fall, or winter. Throughout this progression, my friend always pointed out when we were on the A.T. when out hiking. I knew of the A.T., but up until my passion for hiking was revealed, I never really thought about it other than when I was serving thru-hikers when working in Lincoln restaurants!
Now, my mind only has more questions as I am exposed to the history, creation, culture, etc. of the Trail. I want to learn more for my own personal knowledge as well as to use in the classroom. From the first session and meeting other people in the program, it seems that other teachers are in a similar place. This wanting of knowledge about the A.T. has definitely connected all of us and through our sharing, we have already had fun learning about soil, Mount Washington weather trends, and previous participants’ successes. The first weekend was inspiring and motivating, and only increased my curiosity about how I can use this program for teaching.
I am in a transition in my teaching, using more experiential education in my classroom. This past year I co-taught a class called Project Venture for eighth grade. During this pilot year, the students were exposed to service learning (building bridges and trail maintenance for town trails, creating a “pump” track for the community) and the natural world (hiking, having class outside when possible) on a regular basis. I still can’t believe how successful it was and how students were excited, motivated and willing to work. My hopes are to build on this program, utilizing the A.T. regularly as both a service learning opportunity as well as a natural world experience. I am also looking forward to including a few “dirty” lessons on soil and incorporating the Leave No Trace principles out on the trail!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Troutville Trail Days

Post by Rebecca Kyle of James River High School Buchanan, Virginia 
Leaf No Trace Craft Time

Principle #6
The Troutville Trail Days celebration came at the perfect time this year.  There was a little bit of apprehension because of the weather forecast, but the rain stayed away and it turned out to be a beautiful day.  Following a long week of testing students were able to learn about the history and importance of the Appalachian Trail in the days leading up to the community festivities.  In groups of two or three students created posters depicting the 7 principles of Leave No Trace.   Their creative works were displayed at the Troutville town park during the trail days events and students volunteered to help teach the principles they learned to younger children.  We encouraged participants to create their very own “Leaf” no Trace signs with images of leaf prints.  Another great addition to the trail days were the t-shirts.  Middle and high school students competed to enter the best design.  First, second, and third place winners all came from James River High School! 

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.

Monday, June 3, 2013

New England Spring

Post from Lori Innes of Profile High School, Bethlehem NH: “People hike all of those miles? You are crazy!” These are my student’s responses when I share with them that I joined my husband (trail name Bobcat) for 800 miles (my trail name was Sunshine) during his thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail in 2007.  I have a map of the Trail that hangs near my door, and serves as a reminder of our wonderful journey together that ended two weeks before we were married. The map also haunts me because I have wanted to find a way to incorporate this experience into my classroom, but have not had the resources and time to do so until I found out about The Trail to Every Classroom program. After receiving information from my principal, my husband told me that he had spoken to the first TTEC group at the Blackburn Center about his hike. I was on Cloud 9 after being accepted and the first session of the program was inspiring, and I left feeling confident that I would be able to create service learning opportunities in my school.
Here are some highlights:
  • I learned more about soil in an hour than I ever did in any science class.  I didn’t know about different types of soil or that  soil color could be defined.
  • I learned about programs offered by the AMC that I never knew existed and I am excited to build a relationship with this organization. I am a wildflower fanatic and I’ve never incorporated this knowledge into my curriculum.
  • I enjoyed listening to the case studies. They gave me ideas on how to do this in my school. I felt at ease knowing that the TTEC will provide the foundation, and that utilizing the contacts and resources will enable me to implement place based service learning (I also feel fortunate to have a supportive administration).
  • My husband and I had the opportunity to present our lecture about hiking the Appalachian Trail. The hike was an amazing bonding experience that taught us about community, environment and relationships, and we love sharing this experience with others.
The first session tapped into all my passions: hiking, the outdoors and teaching, and left me excited as to what is next (I have so many curriculum ideas now).  I just finished reading Becoming Odyssa (trail name inspired by Odysseus), a memoir by Jennifer Pharr Davis about her 2005 thru-hike on the AT (I’ve been obsessed with AT books lately!) and she writes about becoming comfortable in her own skin because as a thru hiker, people don’t care “what you are but who you are” (Davis). Teenagers face many struggles, one being lack of self confidence. My hope is that exposing students to a place of meaning through literature, hiking or trail maintaining (the Appalachian Trail - which is in our backyard), will boost their esteem and make them feel even more connected to the North Country. They will realize that “place matters” (Robert Siudzinski, session 1 TTEC) and can teach many important lessons about life and self worth. Maybe one day my students will respond to my AT map and say, “I hiked this section” or “I fixed a bridge on the AT” and feel proud and realize that they had a positive impact on the environment and their “backyard” playground on the AT.
Lori and her husband on July 27, 2007
2 weeks before they got married, just after he finished his thru-hike, and she had joined him for 800 miles

North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald