The Forest Society's Mount Major Outdoor Classroom (MMOC) Program gained some new capacity this spring. This program is provided to elementary and middle schools that already send students on field trips to hike Mount Major. The Forest Society meets each class of students, teachers and parent chaperones at their school in advance of their field trip to deliver a presentation on the natural, cultural, and geological history on Mt. Major, as well as hiking safety and etiquette. Then, we join the classes on their field trip to share in their experience and be available as a resource.
"Once the field trip day arrives," explains Dave Anderson, the Forest Society's director of education and mastermind behind MMOC, "we just let the students climb the mountain. The formal programming is over, but kids remember all sorts of things from the classroom session and want to show us what they've discovered."
This spring, the Forest Society trained six new volunteers to assist with guiding MMOC school groups on their hikes. The volunteers are critical to the success and growth of this program, as engaging more schools every year means that staff can't always make it to the field trip dates.
"They are the Forest Society's ambassadors," says Anderson of the volunteers. "They welcome groups to the mountain, hike with and encourage students to the summit, and document the learning process with photos and their stories."
MMOC volunteers have already started joining class trips up Mount Major. Bob Holdsworth recently accompanied Gilford Elementary School fourth-graders to the mountain, where he engaged the group in picking up trash.
"They filled half a large trash bag," says Holdsworth. "I was really impressed. Everything from cigarette butts to fruit skins, glass, micro trash, bottle caps and a few plastic bottles. I walked around and the kids would come running up and announce their 'treasures.' They got lots of affirmation [from other hikers] for their sincere efforts to clean up the summit."
It's experiences like this that will stick with students, and with any luck the "graduates" of MMOC will continue to be good stewards of Mount Major and all of New Hampshire's natural environments. A big thank you to our MMOC volunteers for their role in the process!
This program is possible by generous support from:
Forest Society member family who wish to remain anonymous
The Dorr Foundation
The Samuel P. Pardoe Foundation