Conserve School teachers use a variety of teaching tools to engage students with learning material. In the content-heavy course of Advanced Placement Environmental Science (an elective at Conserve School), Science Teacher Andy Milbauer uses PowerPoint lectures, note taking, and quizzes. These traditional teaching tools allow Andy to teach broad subjects such as History of Environmental Science (the subject for Wednesday’s APES lecture) and to prepare the students for the Advanced Placement testing environment.
Other science lesson topics lend themselves to more hands-on teaching approaches. During the first day of Environmental Science: Applied Ecology and Sustainable Systems, a core course required for all Conserve School students, students met at the Lowenstine Recreation Center (LRC) and rode mountain bikes out to a site on campus that is currently being logged. They had the chance to speak with Ken Adamovich, a local master logger, to watch trees being delimbed and cut by a harvest machine, and to get pictures sitting in the harvester. Click on this link to watch a video taken by Robert Eady: https://sites.google.com/a/conserveschool.org/eady/cs4-activities-week-by-week/8-24-2012
Some people disapprove of logging because it alters current forests and kills individual trees. While both of these points are true, logging can be very positive for the health of the forest overall when the logging is done appropriately. As Science Teacher Robert Eady, who co-teaches Environmental Science with Andy, pointed out, “Loggers constantly work for the next generation.” Conserve School follows a forestry management plan that prescribes logging operations in some forest types in order to preserve and improve the health of the forest for the next generation. Many of the forests at Conserve School contain large quantities of aspen and balsam fir, which are short-lived, fast-growing trees. These forest types benefit from being harvested every forty years. Conserve School’s plan accommodates this harvest schedule, but staggers harvest years for various locations on campus. These staggered harvest dates will help Conserve School foster a heterogeneous forest that contains trees of all ages, which will be beneficial for many plant and wildlife species. The harvest schedule will also provide opportunities for slower-growing hardwood trees such as maples to flourish, making the forest more diverse.
Logging operations can be an eyesore in the short term, but they present a unique oppotunity for current students to learn about forestry management practices. In addition, generations of Conserve students will reap the ecological benefits of these forestry management practices for years to come.
~ Graduate Fellow Heather Lumpkin