Abbey Willard, District Manager
Web site: http://vacd.org/whiteriver/
Some current projects:
Boltonville Land Use Explorers
The White River NRCD B.L.U.E. Conservation Program, includes a year-round school element in addition to a summer day camp, strives to offer local children the opportunity to experience nature via its unique place-based curriculum. Since 2008, this program has been instrumental in connecting nearly 200 Upper Valley youth with science and nature in their home Wells River watershed.
The primary goal of the B.L.U.E. (Boltonville Land Use Explorers) Conservation Program is to offer youth an engaging hands-on experience through which to begin to understand human impacts upon the Wells River watershed. When students and campers arrive at Al-lens Farm – the host location for the B.L.U.E. Conservation Program - it’s fairly apparent that most are in unfamiliar territory. This may come as a surprise due to their rural Vermont upbringing and inevitable intermingling among the farms and forests that dot the landscape. However, it is increasingly the case that our youth are disconnected from their surrounding natural environment.
During forays to Al-lens Farm, students are introduced to the variety of land uses – both historic and current - that exist within a one-mile radius, including the former Wells River Montpelier Railroad/current Cross VT Trail, Essex Hydro Dam (hydropower), Interstate 91 (transportation), and of course Al-lens organic dairy farm (agriculture). Students are encouraged to reconnect to the natural world by exploring life on an organic dairy farm and along the river - all the while collecting scientific data to evaluate the health of the Wells River. In the process, these young stewards are beginning to take an active role in the protection and conservation of land and water resources in the Upper Valley and beyond.
White River NRCD staff work with administrators and staff at Newbury Elementary School, Blue Mountain Union School, and Barnet Elementary School during the school year to offer this unique place-based learning program to 4th grade students. The B.L.U.E. curriculum focuses learning in the local community - along the banks of the Wells River, amid the daily activities of a working organic dairy farm, as well as in the classroom and nearby school grounds. Other environmental education programs exist in the Upper Valley, however the B.L.U.E. Program provides something these other programs do not, and that is the dynamic focus on how human activities directly affect the local environment within which the individual students live, learn, play, and grow.
The B.L.U.E. Conservation Program provides families with a unique and affordable summer day camp experience; enables schools to offer youth engaging place-based lessons that would otherwise not be available to them; educates leaders of tomorrow about their role within their local watershed; and builds participating youths’ confidence in learning and exploring in the out of doors.
For more information go to: http://vacd.org/whiteriver/