Posted by: Stefan Anderson | April 17, 2015

Leadership on the Lake

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This morning I was invited by students in the Leadership class to take pictures while the students participated in a leadership challenge. The topic for the day was problem solving and the lesson was designed and taught by two of the students. The class was divided into two teams. Three students on each team were given special roles with one being a chicken, one a fox, and one representing a bundle of grain. Each team was also given a rowboat to use. Their mission was to be the first team to successfully get their chicken, fox and grain to the other side of the lake. However, they could only have one of those three things in the boat at any one time, and they couldn’t have the chicken and grain or the fox and chicken together by themselves on either side of the lake. After the teams formulated their plans the race was on.

After each team had successfully completed the challenge the class gathered in four rowboats. They read a short piece on teamwork and then held a discussion. It looked like they were having fun and learning some useful lessons.

Regards,

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Pictures from today’s class

Posted by: Phil DeLong | March 27, 2015

Dog Days

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Yesterday morning, Jeff Rennicke’s Nature Photography elective was pleased to be joined by Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, a professional photographer specializing in subjects of the canine persuasion. Stonehouse Hudson helped the students think about the particular challenges of photographing animals, which have the habit of moving and being unpredictable. After some time in the classroom, the students were given the opportunity to shoot photos of some of the campus dogs, who were enjoying the fresh snow in the Commons. We “hounded” the students to share some of their photos, and we invite you to enjoy a sampling of their work from this class activity.

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

Posted by: Phil DeLong | March 5, 2015

Winter Waterfall Trip

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From the teacher webpage of Jeff Rennicke, English teacher (all photos courtesy of Jeff):

The study and experience of nature does not stop at the classroom door at Conserve, or even at the end of the school day or week. Every encounter with the natural world gives students an opportunity to learn about themselves and about the world around them. [On a recent weekend], I took a group of students to Bond Falls on a frigid, windy Saturday adventure. The falls roared. The mist froze to our faces. The sub-zero temperatures chilled our bones and we caught sight of a winter beauty almost frozen in time. When we could no longer feel our fingers, we hiked back to the van for hot chocolate, homemade scones, orange slices, warmth and a poem (I am an English teacher after all). Here is the poem I recited to them after a visit to the waterfalls that flows into Lake Superior:

THE SINGING

 

SOMETIMES, I HEAR SINGING.

EARLY IN THE MORNING

WHEN THE MIST LIFTS AND WISPS ITS WAY

ACROSS THE BLUE-BLACK BACK OF THE WATER

 

OR LATE

WHEN THE LAKE ROLLS AND MOANS

BENEATH ITS STAR-STREWN BLANKETS

THIS LAKE HAS A VOICE.

 

IT’S IN THE WHISTLE OF AUTUMN WINGS ACROSS THE WATER

LOW AND SOFT AND GONE.

 

IT’S IN THE SUN-KISSED LIGHT OF SPRING

MELTING A WINTER’S ICE

DROP, BY DROP, BY DROP.

 

IT’S IN THE SUMMER WIND

STRUMMING THE WAVES

THE SLOW, REPEATING VERSE OF THE SURF.

 

THIS LAKE HAS A VOICE.

 

I HEARD IT MOST CLEARLY ONCE

CAMPED DEEP IN THE THROAT OF A CANYON

THAT BELLOWED ITS RIVER

STRAIGHT INTO THE LAKE

IN ONE SWIFT LEAP … SSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

 

IT’S ONLY THE SOUND OF THE WATERFALLS

THEY TOLD ME.

 

OF COURSE IT IS,

I SAID

 

AND DIDN’T BELIEVE THEM.

 

THERE IS NO NEED TO BELIEVE ONLY THE OBVIOUS

TO HEAR

ONLY THE SOUND OF WATER

WHERE THERE ARE

VOICES

SOFTLY SINGING

Posted by: Phil DeLong | February 26, 2015

Shackletine’s Day

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February in the northwoods offers ample snow, gradually-lengthening days, and chilling cold. Just how cold? Twenty of the first 26 days have seen low temperatures below zero, and three days have seen the high temperature fail to get above zero. The low temperatures for the past eight days have been, in order: -34, -27, -17, -28, -35, -6, -23, -31. While cold like this might necessitate the cancellation of school in many places, life here just goes on. Our teachers leverage the cold and snow of February to bring to life many skills and concepts that can best be learned in these conditions, from albedo in environmental science, to skiing and snowshoeing in field instruction, to a palpably-real experience of Jack London’s classic work, To Build A Fire, in English class. In history class, Michael had his students spend some time experiencing a bit of the adventures of Sir Earnest Shackleton’s famous Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917.

Inspired by what they had learned in history class, some students seized on the fact that Saturday, February 14, was not only Valentine’s Day, but the 100th anniversary of a pivotal event in Shackleton’s expedition. Lena, in her e-portfolio, describes how these students, with two graduate fellows, chose to spend a cold, windy Saturday morning:

The -25 degree wind bit my face as I helped a group of my peers hoist the last chunk of ice out of a small opening on Big Donahue Lake. It was February 14th, 2015; the 100th anniversary of Ernest Shackleton’s boat, Endurance, getting stuck in the ice of Antarctica. That day, a student led group of brave souls decided to trek onto Big Donahue on one of the coldest days this winter to celebrate this occasion. I reluctantly volunteered, not feeling up to spending that much time in such cold weather. However, the sense of pride and accomplishment I felt as that last chunk of ice was pried from the inky blue water is immeasurable and irreplaceable.

There are many things I learned to love that day: the intricate layers of ice that can really only be seen when it is cut from frozen water: the tiny icicles that decorate everyone’s eyelashes: but most importantly, the sense of teamwork and community I felt as we worked together to achieve our goal. I felt so accomplished as the group and I paraded back to the LAB; my snow pants coated in a layer of snow, my extremities completely numb, my eyelashes and hair white with frost. I felt tough as nails having braved the weather that day. Mostly I was proud to be involved in such an extreme, important activity. This was one of those things I would have never done back home and being able to do it here made it so much more meaningful. 

This activity helped me achieve the learning goal “Demonstrates improved skills in the principles and practices of teamwork and leadership”. During this activity I worked with a team in order to achieve a desired goal. By working together, we had fun and learned a lot about teamwork and communicating in the process. This activity was meaningful to me because I got to do it with a lot of friends. I think that together we all felt that we had fought through many boundaries: the cold, the ice not coming out, and using the right methods. I think the most important thing I brought away with me is that anything can be fun if you communicate correctly and have a group of enthusiastic team members.

Lena and her friends remind us of how much our students learn from their “informal” experiences, including those they organize themselves, inspired by their passions. Highly-motivated young people will do that, when we give them the time and space to do so.

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | February 9, 2015

Welcome CS 10

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On Friday January 30, 2015 Conserve School welcomed the 60 new students of Conserve School Semester 10 (CS 10). These adventurous juniors and sophomores have elected to spend one semester of their high school career living and learning in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. While at Conserve School the students will take courses that use environmental stewardship and outdoor activities as integrating concepts as well as partake in a variety of adventures including solo camping, canoeing, hiking, biking and a week-long exploration trip. While at Conserve they will learn how attending a semester school can make a world of difference.

CS 10 by the Numbers

This diverse group of students traveled to Conserve School from 20 states and the District of Columbia. Conserve School’s home state of Wisconsin was most represented with 21 students coming from there. California, Illinios, Indiana, and Minnesota each tied for second with 4 students each. 45 students came from public schools, 6 from private schools, and 9 students came from home schools. Of the 60 students 12 are sophomores and 48 are juniors. Among the student body their are 26 young men and 34 young women. The students are equally split between those who identified themselves as coming from rural, suburban and urban settings. 15% of the students identified themselves as non-Caucasian. When asked how they learned about Conserve School 42 students answered that they learned from a Conserve School alum. 6 of the students were following in the footsteps of siblings who had previously attended Conserve School.

CS 10 Hometowns

Upon arriving students and their families visited orientation stations where they did a number of things including confirming their academic schedules, having their pictures taken, checking in at the health center, and moving into their rooms. By 5 o’clock the families had left and the process of getting to know each other began in earnest. After dinner, students and staff gathered to review Conserve School’s core values and discuss what it means to live as a group in community. The evening was completed with a moving candlelight ceremony at a point on campus we call five corners.

Over the past few days I have enjoyed meeting these talented young adults and I look forward to getting to know them better throughout the coming semester. I hope you enjoy these photos from move-in day.

Regards,

~Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: csdailyblog | December 26, 2014

Final Thoughts – Talya Klinger

~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS9 student Talya Klinger. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Talya is from Novato, California where she is homeschooled.~

Final Thoughts – We Proceeded On!

In The Sound of Music, Maria sings, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start,” but where is a good place to stop when I wish something wouldn’t end?

At the beginning of my Conserve semester, my primary goal was to become more self-sufficient. The first few weeks were very different from my former homeschooling lifestyle, yet I gradually adjusted by developing an intricate system of alarms for every check-in and deadline. Sure my meals were graciously provided by the kitchen staff, but I had to take all my schoolwork and housecleaning into my own hands. Somehow, I learned to balance studying, socializing, and sleeping.

While I am proud of my new-found self-reliance, I’ve come to realize that knowing when I need to rely on my friends or mentors is just as important as being independent. Spraining my ankle almost as soon as I got to Conserve really put me to the test. Suddenly, my desire for self-reliance became a disadvantage: it was hard for me to ask for help even when I needed it. I was in an unfamiliar place with people I was only just getting to know, but I had to trust that others wouldn’t mind helping me. I realize that the trust part is hard for me, even if I will happily help others. Ironically, working toward my goal of independence taught me the importance of inter-dependence. So, while I came to Conserve to be independent, I leave it knowing that a community, much like a family, is closer when people help one another.

My learning goals also took an ironic twist while I’ve been at Conserve. I arrived ready to throw myself into Robert’s environmental science class; I was eager to count orthopterans, pull weeds, and, yes, even hug trees. Many of the projects in Nancy’s Earth Art class, such as metalworking and making paper from fabric scraps and banana peels, showed me new ways of reusing old things, creatively bringing the adage “waste not want not” to life. I have made better than good on my goal to learn more about the environment and stewardship, after months of studying the wilderness, being drawn to nature, and going into the woods. As much as I love wading, digging, and observing, I discovered something else about my learning. I defined myself as a hardcore math and science kid before coming to Conserve. I enjoyed art and history, especially ancient Roman history, but I viewed writing as a chore. After just a few weeks of English and History though, I realized that I looked forward to every one of Jeff’s and Michael’s classes and that some of my best memories are of the activities I did in them. When Jeff and Michael rolled the dividing wall aside and joined forces, I was ecstatic!

It’s hard to say whether societal pressures to pursue science, wanting to step out of my mother’s shadow (she’s an English teacher, after all), or the sheer work of writing prevented me from appreciating humanities as much before Conserve. In the supportive environment of Conserve, I began to look forward to every chance I would get to sit down and write, especially if it involved persuasive writing for environmental causes, analyses of history, fantasy world-building, or in the case of my Monster Field Guide project for English class, all of the above. I now know that I want to keep writing, and quite possibly, I will do so in the service of conservation and sustainability—and maybe even in Spanish too! The forces of science and art unite countries and continents for common causes, and as someone who hopes to understand global issues better from both of those perspectives, it is crucial for me to be able to communicate, like Kathleen, in multiple languages. Though I always dreamed of a career related to the environment, my goals have become more vivid and focused than ever before because of the inspirational examples set by Conserve’s teachers, graduate fellows, students, and guest speakers.

A couple of months into my semester at Conserve, I realized that I had come to know more about the ecology of the Northwoods than my home ecosystem. The irony of traveling clear across the country to find out more about what is going on in my own backyard does not escape me. If anything, I’m a little shocked at how few species I can identify in my home wetlands and woods. (Granted, after living in 10 different places along the California coast, the unique wildlife of each has started to blur.) When I get home to Novato, I plan to learn as much as possible about the species I have been planting at the Hamilton Wetlands, where I volunteer. I want to ask more questions, so I can find out why we plant in polygons, for example. I want to learn to identify more of the birds I see at the wetlands because I was stunned by just how many different species I saw from the Bay Trail when I went home for Thanksgiving. I also want to do more research about growing native species in my container garden, especially since Californian native species tend to require very little water. I am a much better observer now, after a semester at Conserve, and so a much better steward. Just observing my phenology spot through seasons of brightly colored leaves, pouring rain, and heaping snow banks has taught me to watch and listen. Magic always happens; I want to continue to keep myself open to it even when there isn’t an assignment or class activity.

No reflection on the magic of Conserve would be complete without slipping in some ice and snow. I wish I could honestly write that I will continue to ski, snowshoe, and skate when I return to my sunny California home, but the truth is that I will mostly savor the memories of how incredibly wonderful it was for me to finally experience real snow. I want to visit the Northwoods in winter again and again.

I’ve also spent many hours daydreaming about family canoe trips to Sylvania during the summer. The idea of going on another, longer solo camping trip captivates me most of all. I discovered on solos that even though I can thrive in the bustling social environment of a boarding school, I crave the calm of solitude in nature. The longer I’m alone in the woods or on the water, the more my mind sheds its preoccupation with daily details. The farther I am from thinking about deadlines and assignments, or indeed any responsibilities except stewardship and survival, the more I can ponder what really matters to me. It is that opportunity for thinking more creatively and philosophically that I need. On my next wilderness experiences, I want to stretch my limits, knowing that I can travel with or without company. I want to experience more of the tranquility of solitude and the plasticity of “Trail Time,” ideally for a week or so. However, I also want to challenge myself on rougher seas and longer canoeing trips, both to improve my skills and to remind myself that nature exists on its own terms for its own sake, regardless of humans’ needs. (It’s too tempting, when the weather is clear and the wind is blowing in the most convenient possible direction, for me to forget my “Land Ethic” and overestimate humans’ importance in the scheme of things. It’s harder to do that when nature challenges and awes me at the same time.)

Before Conserve, I spent hour upon hour in the studio blowing, fusing, and casting glass, so it is perhaps no surprise that there are more than a few pictures of glass in my Conserve photo album. The windows of Conserve have captivated me, whether I am looking at the tamaracks and firs outside the Spanish classroom or the bird feeders beyond the Student Apartment and history classroom windows. I often wake up half an hour earlier than I really need to just so that I have time to stare through the immense pane of glass that frames almost the entire east wall of the LAB and the sublime view of the changing seasons. Conserve has been my window on the world for the past four months, and it has made a world of difference to me.

Lewis, Clark, and many of their men repeatedly wrote, “we proceeded on.” As I prepare to leave the Northwoods, I take my Conserve lessons and memories with me wherever I go. There aren’t enough words in my E-Portfolio to capture the enormity of the gifts I have been given or my infinite gratitude for them, so I’m going to keep on observing, drawing, reflecting, and writing. I will proceed on!

 

Thank you Mr. Lowenstine, thank you Conserve School!

Talya Klinger, Conserve School Semester 9

More photos from Talya’s semester at Conserve School.

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.

 

Posted by: csdailyblog | December 24, 2014

Final Thoughts – Krystina Millar

Millar, Krystina~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS9 student Krystina Millar. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Krystina is from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina where she attends St. James High School.~

Final Thoughts

“While I am at Conserve I hope to try new things outside of my comfort zone while also doing activities I love. I want to develop lifelong friendships and become friends with my teachers instead of seeing them as just people who lecture and give me homework. I would like to experience and thrive in an environment outside of my comfort zone. This means living in a close knit community as well as living in a colder climate. I hope to make the most of every situation thrown at me while at Conserve and learn from each of them.” My E-Portfolio Introduction

I accomplished my goal because not all of my time at Conserve was easy but I did not let any particular struggle tear me down. I tried to work through each challenge logically and I feel I was successful in doing so. I became much more self-aware while at Conserve School. I knew what circumstances helped me and what circumstances hurt me. I prioritized self-care while here at Conserve because I knew that in order to be successful in other areas of life I needed to be successful in taking care of myself.

There were a few surprises pertaining to situations I had never experienced before. I had to apply my stress management skills to fit the situation. I was definitely outside my comfort zone in ways I never expected but that is when I experienced the most growth. One of my initial goals this semester was to take advantage of every opportunity presented to me. While this a generally an excellent practice, especially at a semester school like Conserve, I quickly realized I could not do everything. I needed to set aside time for rest and relaxation as well as fun in order to be healthy here. It was hard at first to accept not being able to do every single activity, but my overall wellbeing benefited by doing the best I could and taking the time I needed to relax. Because I will be attending college next fall, my goal is to continue using the independence skills and self-awareness I learned while at Conserve to help me succeed.

I hope to thrive at college next fall and continue to learn more and more about what I love. I also hope to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in the near future. I value simple living so when I get home, I will make it a goal of mine to be less focused on material items. While I believe environmental stewardship is extremely important, I have realized that it is not my passion and it would not be fair for me to pursue something I am not entirely passionate about. However, I will not abandon the natural world completely. In college, I plan on majoring in Outdoor Ministry with a minor in Adventure-Based Counseling. I will use the wilderness as well as outdoor activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, and paddling to help struggling youth and assist them in establishing a connection with the natural world.

Outdoor recreation is my passion so I have no doubt I will continue to love the outdoors as long as I live. I would like to combine my love for the outdoors with my love for helping people and reach struggling youth and teenagers in the future. I plan on expanding my backpacking, paddling, and climbing skills and eventually be able to teach those skills in the future. One of the many reasons I am sad about leaving the Conserve School is the lack of cross country skiing available in my home state of South Carolina. I have fallen in love with cross-country skiing and I will be heartbroken to leave the wonderful sport behind.

Despite leaving so many wonderful things behind, I look forward to all I will accomplish in the future. Conserve is just one chapter of my life with many more wonderful experiences to come. I’m not sure exactly what the future holds, but I have no doubt that I will spend as much time outside doing what I love as I can. I hope to climb a mountain one day. Maybe Everest, maybe not.

Krystina Millar, Conserve School Semester 9

More photos from Krystina’s semester at Conserve School.

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | December 23, 2014

CS9 Semester Celebration Weekend

This past weekend marked the end of Conserve School Semester 9 and the beginning of the next chapter in the lives of the 61 new alumni of Conserve School. It’s my privilege to share a bit about that weekend with you.

Friday was a busy day for students. They spent much of the day packing and cleaning up the Elaine and Donahue Houses.

14-12-19 n1 Packing Ruby  14-12-19 n3 Packing Chad

They also completed a survey about their experience, attended a new alumni meeting, returned all of their school supplies, and then got “gussied up” (as Kim Spagnoli likes to put it) for the Friday night Celebration Dinner. Students Zoë Stack and Naomi Orchard helped kick off the evening by reading a heartfelt thanks that they had written.

14-12-19 s1 Dinner Walker table  14-12-19 s0 Dinner Buffet 01

At the conclusion of the dinner students received their paddles which came with brief notes from the Conserve School staff.

14-12-19 w4 Paddles Lizzie Calla Will Alex Sarah Evan Zane  14-12-19 v2 Paddles Lucy Rowen

Following dinner the community gathered to share highlights from the semester and thanks in the Community Room.

14-12-19 x1 Highlights Patrick   14-12-19 Highlights Michael

Then it was time to head out to “Five Corners” for the candlelight ceremony.

14-12-19 Candlelight 04 from Rennicke   14-12-19 z3 Candlelight 03 from Rennicke

On Saturday the students were joined by their families for tearful greetings and for help in moving out of their rooms. After lunch it was time for a highlight of the weekend, the Semester Celebration Ceremony.

The Semester Celebration Ceremony began by recognizing the tremendous amount of community service hours that the student body as a whole had performed and by giving special recognition to the five students who had performed the most individual hours.

14-12-20 Semester Celebration Donelle Excellence in Service  14-12-20 Semester Celebration Service Cathy Zane

Students received awards  in the e-portfolio competition. (More about that in future blog posts)

14-12-20 Semester Celebration E-portfolio Phil Talya   14-12-20 Semester Celebration E-portfolio Phil Krystina

14-12-20 Semester Celebration E-portfolio Phil Jayleen   14-12-20 Semester Celebration E-portfolio Phil Heidi 02

Three students were selected by their peers to reflect upon the semester and share their thoughts for the future:

 

 

 

The celebration was enlivened by the musical talents of the students of CS9, click on the links below for videos of their performances:

A Musical Medley performed by Lange Navarro

Rivers and Roads performed by Ellie Brown and Henry Alexander

In the Land of the Northwoods performed by Rowen Lohmann, Calla Norris and Lizzie Runge

Low to the Ground performed by Heron Wing

Home performed by Talya Klinger, Hannah Rittman, Hannah Johnson and Ruby Krietzman

The highlight of the ceremony was when each student received the following commission:

On behalf of founder James R. Lowenstine, Conserve School now commissions you to go forward as environmental stewards who are committed to protecting the natural world, who value a strong personal connection with the outdoors, and who will actively share the values and beliefs that have been fostered at Conserve School for the betterment of all.

Pictures of the students along with a brief note about each of them were shared during the commissioning process. You can see some of those pictures in the slideshow below. (The music is from the last Open Mic Night.)

 

Thank you to the CS9 community for a great semester!

Sincerely,

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Here are a few more pictures from last two days of the semester.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | December 13, 2014

Bear in Winter

This morning I had the privilege of watching a group of Conserve School students, with the assistance of Graduate Fellow Donelle Scaffidi, perform “Bear in Winter” at the Land O’ Lakes Public Library. Earlier in the semester the students had been doing volunteer work cleaning and organizing in the library. They finished their work and noticed that the library was hosting a “story time” so they joined in. They had so much fun reading, singing and playing with the local children that when they returned to Conserve School they began planning today’s event.

Today’s event had three parts. First they shared a short play titled “Bear in Winter” which tells an origin story explaining why bears hibernate. Following the play they lead a short sing-a-long. Finally the children had the chance to do a craft project and eat some tasty bear shaped cookies (they let me have one and it was very good!)

I hope you enjoy the video I made of their production and a few photos from the event.

Sincerely,

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all students accepted to this amazing semester school receive full scholarship support.

Posted by: csdailyblog | December 8, 2014

Sylvania Exploration

Christopher, Kaitlynn

Kaitlynn

~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS9 student Kaitlynn Christopher. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Kaitlynn is from Mexia, Texas where she attends Wortham High School.~

Sylvania Exploration

Conserve School Learning Goal: After successfully completing a Conserve School semester, a student appreciates and experiences the wonder of nature; values fundamental, life-long connections with nature; and expresses those connections in creative ways.

In English and History class we get to do numerous things out in nature and in the wild. One of the most notable things though was going to Sylvania and being Thomas Moran for a day [See note below]. I got to sit on the soft ground as snowflakes swirled around me and draw. I drew for at least an hour, not even bothered by the slight numbness in my hands. We then had to write a testimony about why we think it should be protected, I’d like to share with you what I wrote. It shows how much I enjoyed being there and everything beautiful about it.

Sylvania by Kaitlynn as Thomas Moran

Good morning my name is Thomas Moran and I’d like to thank the committee for letting me testify. Sylvania has so much mystery and beauty that it can’t be contained in one simply painting or photograph. It needs to be explored by the people of today’s world, people who need serenity, beauty and peace and that can only be done by protecting this wonderful place. In our travels we stumbled upon many beautiful and surreal things but one of the most astounding was a large yellow birch tree that stood almost alone. It stood above all the other trees, no leaves to cover its bareness, nothing to make it picture perfect but it was exquisite in its own way. Something that can’t be reproduced in a factories.

We also came across a bog in our travels, hidden away from the rest, tucked down in a shallow valley containing bountiful amounts of life. Its shallow waters held thousands of tiny organisms and its vast trees held birds of all sorts. The sun gleamed off the water causing a perfect mirror reflection of whatever was above it. It was one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen and I don’t know of many places that uphold such beauty. So with that said, I strongly think Sylvania should stay a place of mystery and beauty and that it should be protected for future generations to explore and learn from. Thank you for listening and giving me this time and opportunity to speak. I will now be turning in my testimony and am willing to answer any further questions the committee has.

~Kaitlynn Christopher, Conserve School Semester 9

[Note: Here is a description of this class activity from Kaitlynn’s English Teacher, Jeff Rennicke. You can find this description as well as information about other class activities on his teacher page csdailyblog.wordpress.com/teacher-websites.

In 1871, both Thomas Moran (a landscape painter) and W.H. Jackson (an early b&w photographer) were asked to accompany the Hayden Expedition into the Yellowstone region of Montana. Because of years of tall tales and seemingly unbelievable stories, proof was needed to verify the geologic and scenic wonders of the region before Congress would act to protect the area. With the paintings of Moran, the photographs of Jackson, and some eloquent writings by Gustavus Doane from an earlier expedition, Congress would be persuaded to protect the world’s first national park. In this exercise, History teacher Michael Salat and I combine classes and along with the help of Grad Fellows Rebecca and Katie, we hike deep into the Sylvania Wilderness. There, the students work in groups of three sketching, photographing, and trying to capture in words the beauties and importances of the landscape, mimicing the work of Moran, Jackson, and Doane. It gives the students a chance to experience firsthand some of the joys and frustrations that these early artists went through in trying to bring home the wonders of Yellowstone and set the stage for our national park and wilderness systems of today. Later, after returning, the students will prepare testimony to be given in front of a mock Congressional committee in an attempt to use their artistry as well as their public speaking voices to argue in support of protecting the wild place they visited this week.

This is one of the many interdisciplinary and active assignments that Conserve School students undertake.]

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all students accepted to this amazing semester school receive full scholarship support.

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