Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Season, New Pig

There's a handful of benchmarks that can be used to mark the start of a new season at TMI: the first school course of the spring, the day that our full complement of senior staff return from their winter adventures, the day that the seasonal staff arrive, or the day that new staff graduate from training.

Perhaps though, a more precise marker than any of these, is the day we acquire our pig. Eva picked up our pig, Eleanor (Ellie), from a farmer on the other side of the county yesterday. Ellie will help us out by eating all of our food scraps throughout the year so that they don't end up in a landfill. She'll also be tilling our garden.

Ellie had a long and bumpy ride up to her new home and broke loose from her fence to explore the Spruce woods shortly after this photo was taken. She's now back in her spacious pen and happily rooting around.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In Elkins, a Documentary Theatre Project Explores the Lives of Individuals in a Community Facing Mountain Top Removal

Coal River written and directed by Becky Hill is an original documentary theatre project inspired by the people of Coal River Valley, West Virginia. The show focuses on a community in Southern West Virginia as they face Mountain Top Removal Mining. The language of this piece is formed from actual interviews, documents and speeches. The community members' voices were taken from interviews collected by Hill and Jen Osha, a former TMI instructor, within Raleigh and Boone County.

All performances are free of charge. Donations are appreciated. All proceeds will go Marsh Fork Community Association.

The show will be at the Boiler House Studio Theatre at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins April 20th-21st and 26th at 7pm.

The cast includes various Elkins community members ranging in age from 21 to 69 with music by Gerry Milnes.
The Cast is as follows:
Judy: Emily Yeager
Shannon: Craig Hyre
Ernie: Bill Talbot
Silvia: Jane Birdsong
Junior: Adam Williams
Rick: Matt Kupstas
Walker Cat Representative: Evan Burks
West Virginia Coal Association Representative: Bill King
Safety Official: Spinner O'Flaherty
Friends of Coal Women's Auxiliary Representative: Roxy Todd
Definitions: Susan Krakoff

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Pity the Poor Non-Profit

Like all non-profits, TMI is dependent on the grace and generosity of its supporters, whether in the form of financial support, goods, time and energy, or specialized skills. There is no part of our Spruce Knob Mountain Center - from our buildings to our curriculum to our bookkeeping that is untouched by volunteers.

Below is an abbreviated wishlist of things that will help us to maintain our 400 acre facility and the high quality education programming that we bring to thousands of students each year. For the full list, for more specifics, or if you are able to donate any of the following items, please contact our office at (304) 567-2632.

Gear to Outfit Students for Programming
Midweight Long Underwear (S, M, L)
Winter Hats
Thick Waterproof Ski Mittens
Neck Gaiters
Waterproof Hiking Boots (Men's 6-12, Women's 6-8)
Winter Boots (Sorel Glacier or Similar) (Men's 6-12, Women's 6-8)
Thick Fleece Pants (S, M, L)
Thick, Full-Zip Fleece Jackets (S, M, L)
Thick Wool Socks
Rain Jackets & Pants (Helly Hansen Impertech or Similar) (S, M, L, XL, XXL)
Breathable Stockingfoot Chest Waders (M, L)
Shoulder-Length PVC Gloves
Hip Waders w/ Boots (Men's 6-8) (Please no Neoprene or Felt Soles)

Facility & Office Needs
Ten Inch Pouch-Type Laminator
Large Propane Commercial Washer/Dryer
Compact Car for School Visits
Fifteen Passenger Bus

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Summer Courses for Adults at SKMC

TMI will be offering three Professional Development Workshops for teachers and other interested citizens this summer. Participants will learn about the mountains, forests, and streams that make up the Central Appalachian Highlands - one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the United States. They will also leave with the skills and materials necessary to teach this information to their students.

The workshops include:
Wonders of Water: July 11-14
Explore existing water based curricula for your classroom and leave with over 100 lesson plans to use! Learn how to create an outdoor wetland classroom on your school property. Our focus will be Project WET, Wonders of Wetlands, and Planning of Wetlands. Use these activities alone OR to complement a field trip to TMI.

Reading the Landscape: July 18-21
A comprehensive overview of forest and watershed systems using field-based investigation and classroom materials.

Appalachian Watershed & Stream Monitors (with TMI & Trout Unlimited): August 8-11
Immerse yourself in water quality monitoring techniques, stream restoration options with youth, and the wonders of headwaters streams, while covering multiple science and social studies Content Standards & Objectives!

For more information on any of these workshops please visit www.mountain.org/professional-development-opportunities.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nazareth College Group Spruces Up the Earth Shelter

Last month a dedicated group of students from Nazareth College in Rochester spent their spring break at The Mountain Institute. Most of their energies were concentrated on the Earth Shelter: scraping the ceiling, painting the walls, and rearranging the furniture. It's finally starting to look like a real office in here. They also had some time left over to make delicious bread and yogurt and spend some time strolling around the property to learn about the natural history and ecology of Appalachia.

They kept their own blog going while they were here: http://nazarethtmi.blogspot.com/.

A huge thank you to all the students who volunteered their time to make this place look great.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spruce Knob News Spring 2011 to Hit News Stands!

The Spruce Knob News won't actually hit news stands - in fact, I don't know of any news stands anywhere near here. However, it will be mailed out soon. So if you're a friend of TMI's Appalachia Program and would like a copy in your mailbox, drop me an email (jdebellis@mountain.org) and I'll add you to our mailing list.

You can also check out the electronic version (as well as all of our thrilling back issues) at www.mountain.org/publications.

The coming issue will feature a piece about the weather and climate in this part of the world ("Turnaround Time: Notes on a Year of Weather Watching," by Jeff De Bellis), an article about soloing the long, cold winter on Spruce Knob in a 100 year old farmhouse ("Keeping Time, " by Eva Gutierrez), updates on our public school, watershed education, and conservation programs, and much much more.