Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TTECwork - Join us this Summer!

TTECwork - A Leadership Seminar

Trail To Every Classroom: Building a Network of Partners
Experienced TTEC teachers have found that building a strong local network of partners, colleagues, and allies is critical to successful implementation of place-based service learning.  This summer we are offering an institute designed for this purpose. The TTECwork summer seminar will be held July 21-23 near the A.T. in Shenandoah National Park, based out of Front Royal, VA. Open to teams of three from any interested TTEC school districts, the institute offers a range of strong opportunities for bringing TTEC to the next level in your community.

Teams include:
- a TTEC alumni teacher
-   a teacher from the same school or school district who is interested in learning about the TTEC model-   a local A.T. Club member or a member of an A.T. Community Committee
TTECwork Focus
Core elements of the TTEC model, such as developing compelling academic projects focused on meaningful service and exploration of the A.T., building successful school-community partnerships, and strengthening buy-in among other faculty, school administrators, parents, Trail Club volunteers and community members. The institute will maximize both individual learning and each team’s practical accomplishment through interactive and collaborative learning sessions designed for full teams, as well as break-out sessions tailored specifically for veteran TTEC teachers, new TTEC teachers and community/club volunteers.
To support teachers, Trail maintaining clubs and Appalachian Trail Communities in building a strong local network of partners, colleagues, and allies to implement successful place-based service learning curriculum and projects.The quick lowdown (details in the application):
When: July 21st-23rd
Where: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA 
Who: Teams of three should include 
1) a TTEC alumni teacher 
2) a teacher from the same school or school district who is interested in learning about the TTECmodel

3) a local A.T. Club member or a member of an A.T. Community Committee.

Click HERE for Application. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

TTEC in the Park!

Post by Betty Gatewood
TTEC Advisory Council Co Chair and Alumna from 2008

Since 2008 when I was in the TTEC cohort, my husband Mark (Flying McLeods Trail crew) and I have been doing Trailwork and Trail repair on the AT in Shenandoah National Park with several groups of local students.  Having students on the Trail is so important, and these students were gaining knowledge how to be good stewards of the Trail in the future by getting training in Trail construction and repair.

Mark and I have worked with the local governor's school students, a local high school honor society, a UVA service fraternity, and students of my Blue Ridge Community College hiking class.  Here's some of what we/they have done on the AT in Shenandoah National Park (SNP)

  • reconstructed the stone steps from Blackrocks Hut to the spring 
  • repaired and cleaned waterbars on Bear Den Mountain from Beagle Gap to the top of  Bear Den
  • assisted with the AT relocation trail construction on Little Calf Mountain
  • assisted with the AT relocation around a shelter in SNP and pulled Garlic mustard
  • assisted in Trail relocation research on Bear Den Mountain
  • repaired and reconstructed some waterbars on Hightop Mountain
In my work at Mary Baldwin College and as a ranger in Shenandoah NP, I've also worked with high school students to do flora, fauna AND American Chestnut transects. 

It is important work, and I look forward to continuing to share all I've learned from TTEC into the future! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Students on the A.T.!

Post by Jan Onan
TTEC Alumna and Carolina Mountain Club volunteer in North Carolina

It could not have been a more beautiful 2 days to experience backpacking on the AT.  Trailfest was taking place in Hot Springs and the Trail was abuzz with thru-hikers. I eagerly anticipated getting back on the AT having such recent memories of accomplishing the CMC 90/90 last Oct.  It was Friday afternoon, April 11, 2014, when my son, Jake, our trail dog, Sophie, and I waited at Tanyard Gap parking lot for the arrival of the group we volunteered to help chaperone. We knew little about this group.
One of the recent requests CMC received was from North Buncombe HS teacher, Michael Rowe.  He received an ATC License Plate grant to take his Earth Science Club on a backpacking trip to experience the AT and to do water quality testing along the way in creeks, ponds, and the French Broad River. Will Maney, a history teacher at NBHS and a 2013 AT thru-hiker, was a natural to be along as a chaperone. The kids were ready and excited about being on the Trail. One problem could have kept them from this planned trip. There were 13 students, 7 of whom were female.
The group needed a female chaperone. Thus, the request came to CMC.  When the request finally made it to my email, I looked at my calendar and saw that I was free and was excited that CMC could participate.  Having been a Trail to Every Classroom (TTEC) participant in 2008, this fit perfectly with TTEC goals to get students on the AT.

Jake and I were taking in the mountain air when we saw what looked like a fleet of vehicles arriving at the parking lot. Out jumped 13 smiling students and 2 smiling teachers happy to finally be starting their adventure. Introductions were made, car shuttles worked out and the .7 mile hike to Mill Ridge camp site began. Along the way, we talked about the AT- from blazes to the 31 maintenance crews.  ATC extraordinaire, Julie Judkins, provided me with and AT trail trivia sheet, but the kids asked me the questions before I brought it up! The students learned how CMC members lead group hikes; trail breaks, sweeps and how not to get lost! This was the first time hiking for several of these 13 students, but you would have never known. I was amazed from the start at the abilities and positive attitudes of these HS students. 

Once at camp, I learned that much of their gear was gathered from what family or friends had about.  As the kids made camp, I heard laughing and saw high-fives shared when it was discovered that one student grabbed what she thought was a 2-man tent to share with a fellow classmate, only to discover it was a child size single tent! This presented no dilemma as the students quickly came to a solution by sharing what equipment each of them had. This was the first time hiking, let alone backpacking and camping, for several of these students.

After dinner, Frisbee, and hacky sac, I shared a Leave No Trace activity from PEAK (Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids) packet given to us at the TTEC training. The HS kids had fun discovering how long common discarded objects take to decompose, then Jake went over the 7 Leave No Trace principles using hand gestures to help them remember. They were all great sports and all participated. ATC also provided us with Leave No Trace cards for each of the students.

We enjoyed each other around the campfire before  hitting the sleeping bags in our tents or hammocks. Saturday morning after breakfast, packing up and water testing, we headed out again towards Hot Springs.  These students can hike! Even with heavy loads, they kept a great pace and arrived at the river a lot sooner than expected. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this great group of students and would recommend other trail club members to connect with your local HS Environmental Science teachers and volunteer your skills.
Jan Onan, CMC

Here’s what some of the students had to say about being on the AT:

"I enjoyed the opportunity to apply textbook knowledge into the real world, which is something that is scarce in conventional education" -Julian
" Hiking through parts of the AT was an incredible experience in which I saw how the environment works in a beautiful, vivid way" -Lindsey
"The experience was a lot of fun. I enjoyed learning how the water filter worked, i also learned about LNT"-Stephanie
" I learned that there is more things happening to the French Broad River than I thought"-Mason
" I really enjoyed being outdoors with friends and just being outside of the classroom but still learning"-Taylor

Friday, February 14, 2014

Webinar Opportunities

Conquering Nature Deficit Disorder with Phenology, Wednesday, February 12th, at 7:30pm EST.

Long before Last Child in the Woods, biology teacher Larry Weber has been teaching his middle school students how to identify common local flora and fauna and  evidence of seasonal change (i.e. phenology). Larry will draw on his decades of experience to explain how to organize a course focused on phenology, what students look for each month of the school year and the benefits of this type of teaching.

Building a Culture of Resilience through EducationThursday, February 20th, 7pm EST

Children and youth witness and experience natural disasters in increasing numbers and intensity.  This webinar will explore the curriculum, learning and teaching implications of helping children and youth to become active agents in preventing, mitigating and better coping with natural disasters.  It will highlight practical ideas and examples of disaster risk reduction (DRR) education in school and community characterized by child/youth participation and leadership.  The webinar will also explore how environmental education can contribute to disaster risk reduction and vice-versa.  Participants will be invited to share their own practice and experience in empowering children and youth to help foster a resilient school and community.  Reserve your spot now:  (http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/webinar-building-a-culture-of-resilience-through-education-tickets-6546720417)

Water Quality Monitoring in Outdoor EducationThursday, February 27th, 7:30pm EST

Water provides a rich source of learning opportunities. The webinar will explore water quality monitoring as an educational tool to engage students in learning about water and the local environment. Participants will be provided with practical information to integrate water quality monitoring into their own practice including how to set-up monitoring activities, managing risk, the monitoring process, helpful tools and resources, and how to make water quality monitoring a meaningful learning experience.   Reserve your spot now:  (https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/water-quality-monitoring-in-outdoor-education-tickets-9907966996)

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