Press Release (2008): AMC Programs for Piscataquis Kids

June 12, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2008

Goal Is To Provide At Least Three Outdoor Experiences During School Career

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has intensified its commitment to outdoor education in the 100-Mile Wilderness region with a new program aimed at helping schoolchildren in Piscataquis County make a closer connection with the outdoors. The effort is part of AMC’s broader Maine Woods Initiative, which addresses regional ecological and economic needs through outdoor recreation, resource protection, sustainable forestry and community partnerships. 

Building on the early success of collaborative programs with local schools, AMC is working with educators to offer hands-on outdoor learning opportunities to all schoolchildren in Piscataquis County.

Through this new program, known as the Moosehead Area Schools Project, AMC is deepening its commitment to outdoor education by offering outdoor learning experiences to every elementary school, middle school, and high school student in Piscataquis County, at least three times over the course of his or her school career, according to AMC Deputy Director Walter Graff.

“Developing this program for local school kids is a natural for us,” said Graff.  “It brings the AMC’s longstanding experience in outdoor education to local kids, and it makes use of our nearby Katahdin Iron Works property as a venue for hands-on learning in the outdoors,” he said. “We want kids to learn about, and have fun in, an outdoor environment close to home.”

The Moosehead Area Schools Project covers five school districts encompassing 19 towns and townships in the region.  It expands on collaborative efforts already under way with schools in Brownville, Milo, Guilford, and Greenville.

The project is modeled on AMC’s A Mountain Classroom program, which has a three-decade history and serves approximately 3,500 schoolchildren per year from throughout New England, using the spectacular White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire and Maine as an outdoor classroom.

A Mountain Classroom programs are designed to use hands-on outdoor activities to help strengthen lessons learned in the classroom. At the same time, students develop social skills by working collaboratively with their peers, and learn the value of teamwork.

“We’ve been working with teachers and schoolchildren in area towns for three years, and we’re excited about this new opportunity to offer outdoor-focused programming centered on Earth sciences, natural history and team-building,” said Andrea Muller, North Country youth education director for the AMC. “We also plan to continue our work with local scouting troops, and birding clubs, and will be offering a joint program with the Natural Resource Education Center (NREC) this summer. We’re very pleased to be part of these collaborations,” she said.

AMC will work with local educators to offer programs on school grounds, in local parks and on AMC’s 37,000-acre Katahdin Iron Works property. Plans include at least one overnight field trip for every student to an AMC sporting camp, she said.  Programs will be offered for free or for a nominal fee, and will be designed to assist teachers in meeting Maine Learning Results standards and guidelines, she said.

Brownville Elementary School pupils recently joined AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative Programs Manager Shannon LeRoy for a field-study session, learning about vernal pools by looking for tadpoles and other aquatic life in a vernal pool on the school’s new nature trail.  Brownville Elementary 6th-grade teacher, Judy Thompson, helped initiate that activity. She and her pupils had participated in outdoor learning with LeRoy previously, as well, in a field trip that included a visit to AMC’s Little Lyford Pond Camps.

“The 6th grade just completed yearbooks, and every single one talked about the wonderful time they had at Little Lyford Pond Camps,” said Thompson. “It is something they will always take with them.”

AMC operates two traditional sporting camps in the region—Little Lyford Pond Camps and Medawisla Wilderness Camps– with a third slated to be opened for use next year, as well as shelters and campsites on AMC’s Katahdin Iron Works property. Moose Point Cabin is another popular AMC destination that has hosted local school groups in recent years.

All of these destinations, as well as AMC’s 37,000-acre Katahdin Iron Works property, are open for use by the public.

“We see the AMC’s Katahdin Iron Works property as providing a fantastic landscape in which students can become immersed in the natural world and learn about the region’s flora and fauna, and explore, in a hands-on way, such concepts as watershed science, forest ecology, and geologic history,” said LeRoy, who heads up AMC’s Greenville office.

AMC’s Katahdin Iron Works property is managed for a variety of uses, such as recreation, wildlife habitat enhancement, watershed protection, and timber management. “With its broad variety of land management objectives, this landscape makes the perfect outdoor classroom,” agreed Graff.

Educators interested in more information on the Moosehead Area Schools Project are invited to contact AMC North Country Youth Education Director Andrea Muller at amuller@outdoors.org or AMC Maine Woods Initiative Programs Manager Shannon LeRoy at sleroy@outdoors.org or (207) 695-3085. 

Founded in 1876, the nonprofit Appalachian Mountain Club is the oldest conservation and recreation organization in the United States. AMC has a long history in the region. AMC’s Appalachia,   the oldest, continuously published journal of mountaineering and conservation in North America, described the Katahdin wilderness in an 1881 edition. The club established a seasonal camp at Katahdin Lake, in 1887, and another in the Katahdin Iron Works area in 1939.

AMC launched its Maine Woods Initiative in 2003 as an innovative approach to land conservation that combines outdoor recreation, resource protection, sustainable forestry, and community partnerships in the 100-Mile Wilderness region. The initiative seeks to address the ecological and economic needs of the Maine Woods by supporting local forest products jobs and traditional recreation, creating new multi-day recreational experiences for visitors and attracting new nature-based tourism to the region.

More information on the Moosehead Schools Project, and Maine Woods Initiative, is available at www.outdoors.org/mwi

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Rob Burbank

Director of Media and Public Affairs
rburbank@outdoors.org
(603) 466-8155