The idea behind this name was to show that public lands are for everyone and provide
many opportunities for learning, fitness, and recreation.
It connects youth with communities along the Appalachian Trail and public lands.
2 big name organizations that will provide support, both financially and through
How to connect kids locally with nature and within their community
TTEC pushed us as a trio, group who attended TTEC together, to join forces with one
another, fellow MS staff, and the local community.
The AT is a place for recreation, nature, culture, spirit, and education where people can
recognize challenges and dreams.
For teaching all content areas; it’s a great opportunity for collaboration and subject
Cohort all interested in finding and learning ways of incorporating the outdoors into our
classrooms; trio who could easily work the TTEC principles throughout the entire middle
Teachers included Shelby Brett (6th grade science), Aaron Ashman (8th grade math), and
myself (7th grade science). Both Shelby and I were naturalists and environmental
educators before teaching science, and Aaron enjoys hiking, camping, and outdoor
With the idea of nature deficit disorder -- the fact that children are decreasing their use of
nature and sense of discovery -- it was a priority of ours to bring that excitement of
outdoors back into the students’ lives.
Research states emphatically how important nature is to children: including our special
education students (provides an outlet), higher achievement ratings, ownership for
learning, sense of wonder, and commitment towards the environment.
So, there was no doubt in our minds that nature would have a positive impact on our
students, therefore, causing us to be on the forefront of placing the outdoors within our
Power of one!!! Ask around within your community. Share your ideas, intents, hopes,
By just stepping out of my comfort zone and ASKing, people were sought out form local
organizations, thus getting the ball rolling.
Open lines of communication between cohort and partnerships created.
Through these partnerships, a local need was found, provided through grants that were
written.The local need being the creation and maintenance of a new trail.
The Nature Conservancy has rated the Sacony Creek Marsh as the second most
significant natural site in Berks County. It is ranked as an S2S3 environment by the PA
Natural Heritage Program meaning that its status is wavering between vulnerable and
A grant was received from the Berks County Open Space and Recreation Board to
develop Phase II in 2008.
The borough of Kutztown’s wellheads are on the opposite side of the Sacony Marsh. The
natural filtration of the marsh is important for their water supply.
This new trail just so happened to be conveniently located within 5 minutes of walking
distance from our school.
With this new trail being created along the Sacony Creek and Marsh, our partners NEED
the community to be aware of the trail and how it can be utilized, in addition to having
the students restore and maintain the habitat located along the trail.
The overarching idea being to start locally and move onto bigger models like the
Appalachian Trail, when funding enables us.
You must have backing and support from administration!!!!
Talk with faculty members, in order to start program, keep lines of communication open.
In 7th grade, with our MS flexible schedule, it was determined, in conversations, that we
would run double periods 2x/month, enabling students to get down and back to the creek.
The idea being that this would create ample time with an ongoing process throughout the
year for direct investigation of the natural world. It happens/occurs the 2nd Thursday and
Friday of every month.
Obstacle being weather and clothing attire -- will the kids be prepared??? Having
advance notice will enable preparation and time to be constantly reminded, hopefully
alleviating this issue.
MS in-service provided by cohort (3 TTEC workshoppers), art teacher, school nurse,
Kutztown borough member and DCNR partner.
In-service sessions included: content integration using the outdoors (adding math, l.a.,
reading, social studies), lessening fear and apprehension of taking students outdoors, hike
along trail that identified native fauna and flora, medical emergencies and how to handle
them, and sketching/journaling activities.
Physical components for water testing such as water and air temperature, water depth at 3
locations, speed of water flow, and general observations. Analysis will be included within
graphing and statistics units and as a basis for solving equations.
Measurements of things that can not be physically measured -- use of clinometer, trundle
wheel, and trigonometry for measuring tree height, use of tape measure to gather
circumference of tree, use of shadow in measuring tree height.
Graphing and charts also completed as a way of data collection and analysis for different
times throughout the year. All information was kept in a school-wide excel sheet.
6th -- sensory skills (use of senses outdoors), podcast and/or skits/role playing LNT
guidelines, using PEAK packet provided through REI, garlic muster and multi floral rose
removed with students, native plantings
Journals created in 6th-8th grade. Every grade composes their own creation that they are
able to decorate, thus making it theirs, to develop ownership qualities and characteristics.
Each guide is used differently, but all students are asked to reflect and sketch within their
Simple sketching while outdoors; partnership with university students in mentoring
Nature collages and recycled art sculptures.
Japanese culture including: kanji symbols and passports, kanji scrolls, kanji tea cups. All
relating to nature, since in Japan many things revolve around the natural environment.
After creation of trail, students were asked to plant native species along creek edges and
bank to shade the creek as well as creating a riparian buffer zone thus enhancing the
outloook of the marsh and creek, in addition to making it more aesthetically pleasing.
Chemical and biological water testing.
Trail mapping and scavenger hunt creations.
Nature journaling and sketching activities.
Created signage to be hung along trail --- after finding out litter, cleaning up after dogs,
tromping through the creek were issues, 1 of our partners (MWA) asked students to
create and post signs that deter visitors from completing these actions, in addition to,
describing the importance of a riparian buffer.
In October, after all the hard work KMS students have put into place beautifying the trail,
the entire MS was invited to attend a dedication that included a small reception, with very
important community members. Several hard working 7th graders were chosen to plant
the pin oak tree, found front and center, with the mayor, borough members, and members
of BCC, MWA, and FSM.
Begin unit with youtube video and clips,notes page on AT, reminders of LNT guidelines
from last year, map activity -- pick 1 state along trail and collect information, then
providing a quick presentation to the class on that state, color hiker picture and create
personal trail name, preparation (backpack requirements, food and water, blazes with
fake hike, equipment showcase, first aid and dangers, sanitation and hygiene, projects --
trading card of 1 AT flora/fauna, journal activity, and food planning for 3 days. Final
celebration was to have a local parent come in and provide an assembly to the students
from a thru-hiker on their experiences and thoughts.
Still trying to get students to the AT -- having issues with funding for buses. Students will
need transported in buses since the trail is approximately 20-30 minutes away.
It is incredibly important to reflect and continually evaluate where your program is,
where you want it to be, and what things have and have not worked. The more the lines
of communication are kept open, the better. Continual conversation is of utmost
Keep looking for others within the building who are willing to add dimension to your
Inherent motivation and teamwork will allow the program to continually grow! Keep
coming up with ideas, you must constantly be looking/wanting more!
Ask students their thoughts, you’ll get true information that way. Sometimes good and
bad, but at least it will be truthful!
SAN Award -- Schukyll Action Network Award in 2009 for source water protection and
leadership in watershed education
TTEC program, what we’re doing as a MS with outdoor education, how to create a
program like ours, etc…VERY similar to the in-service that we provided to our MS
SKIP SLIDE 19
Kathy Miller, retired teacher and cellist, spent 2 years photographing nature, especially
the curious behavior of chipmunks in her garden. She then realized how wonderful her
photographs were and decided to create a book out of it. With this in mind, I asked if she
would be willing to present her story and information regarding photography in nature.
The assembly was very well received and provided very helpful information for students
to take pictures outdoors.
Following the assembly, fitting nicely within my plant unit, the students will be choosing
a plant located along the trail and identifying it. This will pull their dichotomous key
techniques into play, in addition to taking photographs and sketching, while observing
key factors (texture, leaf points, branch buds, etc.) of their plant. They will need to then
research their plant in current field guides to create their own page that will be included
within the 7th grade 2015 field guide book.
In collaboration with BCC and grants received from the DEP, trees were planted in 2
different areas located on borough farm property throughout the course of the year,
primarily to decrease agricultural runoff, create a barrier for the water supply, decrease
erosion and pollution potentials. The students were taught by Larry Llyod how to plant,
why to plant, and basic logistics, and then were set lose in their outside groups to plant
trees. In total 1,000 trees were planted. Keep in mind though, this was a partnership
between the community members of Kutztown and KMS. All with the same thoughts in
mind -- keep our water clean!!!! In addition to creating individuals who are stewards of
their local environment!!!Great way to establish environmental awareness and the idea
that what you do, as students, affects the rest of the world. Also, it created local
ownership to the environment in which they live. Following the 2nd tree planting, every
class was provided a tour of the water plant where they were able to see how the water
system works, along with logistics regarding our water supply.
Planting trees journalistic opportunities.
Seedlings for schools -- program sponsored by the PA Game Commission where teachers
are able to receive free silky dogwood and evergreen trees with lesson plans where
students plant these seedlings at home, on school grounds or in their community and
discover the vital role of trees in the environment. These were provided to us, free of
charge, right around Earth Day and were an overwhelming success in the MS.
Plantings during our 2nd experience -- Larry Lloyd in corner demonstrating proper
AT Family Day was an idea put together based on not having funding, budget constraints,
enabling us to get to the AT during school time. With that idea in mind, it came to me
that I could have a day on the AT not during school time, however, it would have to be
completely voluntary, for transportation reasons. I brought up my idea with the faculty at
my school, and of course, my cohort was willing to chip in and help. Plus, there were
other teachers who were interested in participating, but not helping. We decided, as a
group, that this should occur on a Saturday morning, inviting all MS students, parents,
and friends. The day would consist of hikes on the AT, but where and how? I then began
getting in contact with local organizations, restaurants, outfitters, etc…looking for
donations, volunteers, etc. Thankfully, the president of our local AT club was willing to
jump in and help out in many facets. Marty from the BMECC actually met with me on a
Saturday at the Hamburg Resevoir to show me the trails located there, and access the AT.
It was a perfect connection -- it benefited both groups. From this conversation, our
program flourished. The AT Family Day would consist of three different hikes, easy,
moderate, and difficult, with hike leaders coming from the BMECC. The morning will
start with a registration process in the parking lot where participants will be handed
ribbons indicating they are with our group. Tables will be set up along the way to the
meeting section for art, Cabela’s, BMECC, cases of water and snacks. In contacting the
local organizations, I was provided 2 gift cards, 1 gift certificate, and promotional items.
New partners added: Walmart, local Weis, Dietrich’s Meats, REI, and Cabela’s. Never be
afraid to ask!! Ask and you shall receive! At 1st, I received lots of no’s, but the continual
effort was worth it because I was able to receive many freebies and some new points of
contact that are willing to step in and volunteer their efforts. Looking forward to this very
well planned out day, lets hope the weather works, in addition to the potty situation.