High school and elementary students learn about land stewardship

BRANDON — Behind Otter Valley Union High School lies Hawk Hill, an expanse of contiguous forest, rich in ecological integrity and local history. A class within the high school, the Moosalamoo Center, has used, stewarded and studied the landscape, finding it to be a living laboratory of Vermont history both environmental and societal.
Neiko Young, a Moosalamoo student, puts it this way: “Hawk Hill inspires me, in the sense that it is a wild area preserved in a way that allows for amazing discovery, again and again. It makes me wish to find or have a hand in allowing for more such woodlands in Vermont.” Students at the center have facilitated outdoor workshops for elementary students for years, but their most recent undertaking has been a big one.
“The opportunity to show and impact children about their landscape in all its layers can have a positive influence on young people and their future, in that they can define their own backyard and see the value of it,” says Micah Bove, a Moosalamoo student. Leicester Elementary School, which has been implementing an expeditionary learning model throughout the year, linked up with Micah and his classmates to begin to define a part of the Hawk Hill landscape in a unique fashion.
“A natural landscape offers a course of study that is holistic and diverse; it does not have a clear beginning or end but it does have tangible connections and that is what we sought to dive into,” says Josh Hardt, educator at the Moosalamoo Center.
Laura Coro, Leicester Elementary teacher, spearheaded an effort to link with the Moosalamoo Center. A brainstorming session led to development of an educational endeavor unlike anything either school had done before. The Otter Creek and Rutland Audubon societies funded the project with a generous environmental education grant of $800.
Using the alder swamp, which is heavily inhabited by beavers, as the specific location of intrigue, Moosalamoo and Leicester Elementary began a month-and-a-half-long investigation of beaver pond biodiversity, water quality, beaver hydrodynamics, and early frontier French and Native American fur trade. Encapsulated within this was random aquatic macro-invertebrate surveys and their indications as to water quality, a French-Canadian fur traders re-enacted camp, a flora and fauna scavenger hunt amongst the wetlands and a miniature functioning beaver pond demonstrated flood mitigation and silt deposition.
Elementary students worked directly with Moosalamoo students in the field during these hands-on lessons. One elementary student said, “I liked how interactive the workshop was.” Leicester Elementary staff and students immersed themselves into Hawk Hill and delved further into the aforementioned topics heading to Hawk Hill for another experience.
On May 31, a celebration of the collaboration was facilitated on Hawk Hill with an “open house” on the premises. Parents and representatives of the Audubon Society were treated to their own student-led excursions to look at the ecology of the wetlands in a holistic sense. This was complete with primitive fire-making and traditional cooking, vernal pool exploration, music and even art displayed throughout the forest trails. One elementary student exclaimed, “I liked how a lady asked me questions and I knew the answers.”
Finally, Moosalamoo students have gathered information procured during the project, and are organizing it in a digital format in an effort to create an interactive app-based interpretation of Hawk Hill. This information will be formatted and offered in a digital format for people looking to gain an understanding of Hawk Hill in a deep ecological sense. “In this day and age, everyone has a device,” said Moosalamoo student Cody O’Connell. “This information would be available to anyone who is interested.”
This has allowed for a powerful educational journey for students and will also serve to be a resource to the community at large, without altering the landscape or diminishing discovery.
This story was provided by Josh Hardt, Moosalamoo Center educator at Otter Valley Union High School.

Share this story:

More News
News Uncategorized

Fresh Air Fund youths returning to county

The Fresh Air Fund, initiated in 1877 to give kids from New York City the opportunity to e … (read more)

Obituaries Uncategorized

Mark A. Nelson of Bristol

BRISTOL — A memorial service for Mark A. Nelson of Bristol will be held 1 p.m. on Saturday … (read more)

Sports Uncategorized

High school athletes ready for fall playoffs this week

See when your favorite high school team is competing in the fall sports playoffs.

Share this story: