July 26, 2022
In the steamy heat of the third week of July, fourteen educators from northern New England and Massachusetts got an introduction to the world of forest-products. They visited two tree farms, an active timber harvest, a sawmill, and a modern wood-heating system. These teachers went to school too: at the UNH educational sawmill and the USDA Forest Service facility. This was an immersive experience to which many experts contributed.
Presentations on the first afternoon varied from poetry and “forest bathing” with Prof. Mary Ann McGarry of Plymouth State University to an analysis of the carbon cycle with Matt Kelly of UNH Cooperative Extension.
On the second day, these 14 teachers went to Durham to hear about invasive species, vernal pools, and the role of forests in global carbon management from UNH staff Mike Simmons and Steve Eisenhaure. Their visit to the pollinator gardens and the GLOBE soil tent was stewarded by USDA staff Angie Hammond and Haley Wiklein. At Brentwood they were hosted by Jude Gates, the director of the Rockingham County wood-heat facility. Finally, owner Jerry Langdon showed them around his Twin Pines Tree Farm in Epping with Greg Jordan of UNH Cooperative Extension.
The third day was just as rigorous and diverse. They began at HHP sawmill in Henniker with HHP staff George Davenport and Christine Pefine, and then got outside again for another tree farm tour, this time with Tom and Ginny Chrisenton of High Ridge Tree Farm in Lyndeborough. They stayed in the fresh (but warm) air to walk through the timber harvest in Hollis at Beaver Brook with natural resources manager Brandon Rackcliff and logger Dick Hazen.
It was a lot to take in and the teachers spent their final morning translating what they had learned into curriculum plans using Project Learning Tree and assembling final presentations.
The teachers’ home for three nights was the Bear Hill cabins at Beaver Brook State Park, where they enjoyed several meals and even a night of live music from the Green Heron Band.
NHTOA received considerable help in the planning, funding, and execution of this event from Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s (SFI) NH Committee; A.V. Roy Foundation; UNH Thompson School; UNH Cooperative Extension; an SFI Education grant; Project Learning Tree; N.H. Division of Forest and Lands; and the U.S. Forest Service.
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