Friday, August 24, 2007

What Happened to Summer?

It's coming. Fall is creeping in under our noses. The mountains are progressively reddening announcing another natural transition. It's the time of year when I find myself quietly humming the 1965 Byrds hit Turn! Turn! Turn! The color change helps remind us of our own transitions here as we look ahead to many school groups in the coming months.

What did happen to summer? The staff were out working their tails off clearing trails in the Monongahela National Forest. I don't know for sure how many miles of trails they cleared, but I think I can safely say hundreds. A large group of amateur astronomers visited the Spruce Knob Mountain Center with the Almost Heaven Star Party to check out our wonderfully dark skies. Unfortunately, we had some inclement weather, but they did get some good viewing in. The Hero's Journey ran two weeks of programming utilizing our beautiful campus. The West Virginia Scholars Alumni visited for a reunion weekend to reconnect with old friends and the place again. We've had all kinds of good folks wander through our gates this summer. There are really too many to mention in this posting.

We are looking forward to 17 different classes from West Virginia Schools this fall. Some will be participating in our BWET program. (See earlier post for more details.) Others will be exploring and investigating our living laboratory for 2 or 3 days, and the rest we'll meet for a 3 day residency for all 5th graders in Randolph County. We are also looking forward to 4 solid weeks of our core 5 day wilderness courses, and a History Along the Potomac trip where a Virginia public school will travel by canoe studying key events in our nation's history. There will be a couple of college courses, and we'll finish off most of the fall with our 4th Annual Pig Roast that will be up at Spruce on October 20th, 2007. You should go, it's fun. Call us for more details.

The Appalachia Program staff are getting busier every year. The truth is that we still have room for more programs. If you know of any schools, teachers, or groups that would be interested in taking part in our programs you should give us a call at 1-800-874-3050 or drop an email to me at

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Potomac Stream Samplers

The 2007 Teacher Training for Potomac Stream Samplers is currently underway. Teachers from the 8 West Virginia counties in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are invited to participate in the tiered water monitoring program. It's mission is to promote awareness of the connections between West Virginia's uplands and downstream environments and our responsibilities as stewards of our watersheds. We currently hoping to expand this model to all the counties in West Virginia.

Potomac Stream Samplers begins with the teachers spending 3 days at the Spruce Knob Mountain Center where they learn the current stream monitoring standards set up by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection(Save Our Streams). Once school begins we visit their students in the classroom introducing the project and the themes that they'll be learning about. The class then travels to Spruce Knob to learn the water monitoring process with Spruce Knob Mountain Center staff. The final chapter is to use thier water monitoring skills to investigate a stream in thier local community.

For more information: or call Beth Altemus, Appalachia Program's Outreach and Education Coordinator, at 1-800-874-3050.