Posted by: mariakopecky | November 2, 2012

Conserve School’s Great Sylvania Expedition

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Conserve School’s English and History students made another trip into the Sylvania Wilderness this week to partake in the Great Sylvania Expedition.  Acting as influential Yellowstone explorers Gustavus C. Doane, Thomas Moran, and William Henry Jackson, students wrote, sketched, and photographed the beauties of the Sylvania Wilderness.  Next Wednesday, they will present their work in teams of three to a Congressional committee (History Teacher Michael Salat and English Teacher Jeff Rennicke) with the hope of securing protection for the area.

Lieutenant Gustavus C. Doane, a military escort for the Washburn Expedition of 1870, not only protected Washburn and his team but wrote thorough reports of Yellowstone’s natural phenomena.  Students taking on Doane’s role during the Great Sylvania Expedition wrote detailed descriptions of Sylvania and why it should be protected.

Thomas Moran, a member of the Hayden Expedition of 1871, is known for his breathtaking paintings and drawings that introduced the public the beauties and colors of the Yellowstone area.  Conserve School students who tackled Moran’s job created artistic representations of the resources and beauty they found in Sylvania.

William Henry Jackson, also a member of the Hayden Expedition of 1871, took photographs of the Yellowstone area that complemented Moran’s artwork.  Student photographers acting as Jackson took at least three photographs of unique and important aspects of Sylvania.

Doane’s writings, Moran’s artwork, and Jackson’s photographs were all influential in convincing the United States Congress to create Yellowstone National Park in 1872.  Although the Sylvania Wilderness is already a protected area, this activity gave the students a chance to experience the joys and challenges that accompany the documentation of a wilderness expedition.

– Graduate Fellow Maria Kopecky (Thank you to Heather Lumpkin for some of the photos!)


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