KENTUCKY — Recently, Green Mountain National Forest staff hosted nine students and two school administrators from the Lexington School for the Deaf, a partner organization from Queens, New York, for a week-long work-study program in Vermont.
Forest Service staff designed activities that would expose the students to public lands, rural Vermont life, natural resource land management, and an assortment of Forest Service careers. While living and working in Vermont, the students and school administrators learned about timber, wildlife and fisheries management, as well as, the fields of recreation, botany and heritage resources. Other activities included: exploring historical sites at the West Hill homestead and cairn site; practicing how to identify native tree and plant species with kindergarten students at a local elementary school; learning about timber management by witnessing the felling of a high risk tree; and meeting with fisheries staff to understand the West Branch watershed restoration project. The week’s events emphasized hands-on learning with activities such as relascope use, learning to fish, logger tape use, and identifying animals with a skins and skulls lesson.
Local communities and businesses continued to support the partnership and helped make the week a success. The Baird Farm Maple Sugarhouse introduced the students to the sugar making process while the Liberty Hill Farm, a working dairy farm where the students resided during the week, provided hands-on farming experiences while completing farm chores.
The Lexington School for the Deaf is the largest deaf school in New York State and educates approximately 350 students. The school begins career education in the elementary grades and continues through middle and high school when students explore personal career interests through formal classes, internships, and community service experiences. Partnering with the U.S. Forest Service provides one more avenue for career exploration with Lexington students. This project was funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service grant provided in support of the 21st Century Conservation Corps effort. The 21CSC is a national effort to put thousands of America’s young people and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors.