MEMS @ Smokey House Center
The two 6th grade classes at Manchester Elementary-Middle School have enjoyed a wonderful yearlong outdoor education program through the Tutorial Center of Danby's Smokey House Center.
Starting in August, on the third Tuesday of each month, all MEMS 6th graders spent most of their school day learning in nature. Staff of the Tutorial Center introduced students as well as teachers Melissa Rice and Seth Bonnett to the diverse ecology of Smokey House's 5,000 acres. Regardless of weather, students assessed the characteristics of each habitat, conducted measurements, and studied how various aspects of the environment interact and affect each other.
(Here are pictures I took this past Tuesday, when I spent several rainy hours at Smokey House with Melissa, Seth, and their students.)
As part of these investigations, students have learned about the different water sources on the property--pond, beaver pond, brooks, stream, and vernal pools--all of which comprise the watershed of Mill Brook, the stream into which they will release their trout on May 16. One winter day when the temperature didn't break 10 degrees, students even measured the thickness of ice on Smokey House's farm pond.
As the year and this wonderful program winds down, students are now working in groups to prepare project reports, which they will deliver to two separate audiences: Smokey House and Tutorial Center staff and, on the following day, their parents. Projects include such topics as the impact the construction of a dock has on a pond and its inhabitants and developing a land-management plan for a region of the Smokey House grounds.
(After spending this terrific day with the MEMS classes, I told Melissa that I would like to interview her and her students and, with video editing help from some of her students, turn the interviews into a YouTube video. If I succeed in doing this, you'll find news of the video in a future blog.)
More wildflower photos
The time I spent with MEMS 6th graders recently gave me the opportunity to photograph a few more wildflowers. Here they are.
Wonderful Vermont ETV resources.
Every week I DVR Vermont Public Television's Outdoor Journal. Usually each half-hour episode has at least one segment that appeals to my outdoor (and TIC) interests.
I've provided a link to the YouTube video collection.
Below is an interesting piece that focuses on efforts to educate highway department personnel and others about stream dynamics and how these need to be considered when in-stream work is done, especially following a heavy storm event. It relates quite directly to the "After the Flood" article I posted as part of my March 6th blog.
The moral of the story is that everybody--citizens, property owner, scientists, bulldozer operators, sportspeople, etc.--needs to understand how streams work, what constitutes good habitat for a stream's aquatic life, and how by human intervention we could either make our streams better or worse.
The following story describes how spawning landlocked salmon leave Lake Champlain and swim up the Winooski River until they're blocked by the first of three hydroelectric dams. That's where an inventive system traps the salmon, allowing them to be netted and transported by truck to a section of the river above the third dam, where they have a chance of spawning successfully.
I think your students will like the video
Latest list of Release Day details
Here again is a link to the current list of Release Days, which now includes details on 38 schools.
Our first Release Days--two of them--will be held on Friday, May 5. On Wednesday, May 3, I will publish the next blog, which will provide some nitty gritty information on such processes as netting the trout out of the tank and transporting them. Look for that.
But in the meantime, try to get some publicity for your program and for your Release Day. Good luck!
Joe Mark, Lead Facilitator, Vermont Trout in the Classroom
In June 2012, I retired after 40 years in higher education, having spent the last 32 years of my career as dean at Castleton. One of the first things I volunteered to do in retirement was to work with Jim Mirenda to help the Dorset School, where his kids and my Vermont grandkids attend, start a TIC program. Gradually that commitment grew into my current role, which is both demanding and highly rewarding.