Monday, May 9, 2016

Wrapping Up the Semester and Our Work with Avalonia; Until Next Year

by Jessica Sullivan
Since we have all experienced a gloomy week, we decided to share some lovely spring wildflowers to enjoy while you read Jessica’s wrap up.

A visit to Stonington High School

As the semester comes to a close, the sophomores of Goodwin-Niering are finishing up our work with Avalonia. One project that is still in the works is that of Josh Lee and Phoebe Masterson-Eckart. Phoebe and Josh are doing a very exciting project that involves reaching out to local youths to get them interested in Avalonia and invested in land conservation. The curriculum that they will be presenting to the students of Stonington High School on May 11th focuses on invasive species: why they are bad for the environment that they are invading, and how Avalonia is trying to get rid of these nasty invasives in order to further preserve the natural land. Josh and Phoebe explained their project, stating: “Last week we got to know the students of the Stonington High School Environmental Studies course, and we helped them plant vegetables, flowers, and herbs that they had been starting in the greenhouse at the HS. It provided us with the chance to get a feel for what they already know and what they find interesting in the field. Hopefully this kind of thing will be a part of a continued partnership beyond annual workshops, but extend into field trips or work days, and build a stronger group of young environmentalists.” It is so important that today’s youth become involved with land conservation because they are the people who are going to be taking care of things in the future, so it is great to see these young minds getting involved early.
Canada Mayflower.
Red Trillium

Another cool project is Maya Sutton-Smith’s; She is investigating the history of the Perry Natural Area. Over the course of the semester, she has learned a lot about the history of the land and the people who once lived there and the remnants of which we can still see today. After our work day at the Perry Natural Area, it was clear that the area has a rich history based on the presence of old wells, a cemetery, stone cairns, and even house foundations. Through research and interviews, Maya has been able to explore this amazing history that is now being preserved in the land. Her final project will be linked to the Perry natural Area preserve page on the Avalonia Website.
Trout Lily

Senior Integrative Projects

On a slightly different note, I would like to give a shout-out to the seniors of Goodwin-Niering who presented their Senior Integrative Projects to their friends, parents, and colleagues on Thursday, May 5th. A lot of their projects were closely tied with land conservation and had an overall connection to the land. A few people who I want to highlight are Olivia Rabbitt, Matt Luciani, and Aly Cheney. Olivia’s project focused on permaculture as she had experienced during her time in Hawaii. She explained how one of the intentions of permaculture was the “intended goal of healing the earth” which I think ties nicely in with the work that Avalonia is doing. Matt looked at the wilderness in how it relates to narratives regarding Native Americans which shows that it is important not to forget the history of the land that we live on, something that I am sure Maya would agree with. Lastly, Aly’s project focused on the issues of preservation versus conservation as it relates to land use and recreational activities in Colorado and the importance of “treating the land in a way that is good for it and good for us.” This coordinates with Avalonia’s mission to share their trails in order to communicate the value of these wonderful resources and encourage the conservation ethic.
Not so lovely Poison Ivy. Steer clear of it.
Woodland Azalea 

In conclusion, I have had such a good experience working with Avalonia, and specifically Beth, this semester. It has been a lot of fun. I hope that in the future I will be able to work again with the Land Trust. I am sure that next year a new batch of GNCE sophomores will take up the task of doing work with Avalonia, and hopefully someone will work on the blog too. Just because the semester has come to a close, that doesn’t mean that our work with Avalonia has ended. On the contrary, we hope to work with Avalonia for years to come.
NOTE FROM BETH: Thank you to Jessica for all your writing. And thank you to all of these wonderful students. Each year I get bonded to them for a short time. I have really enjoyed the experience and effort. It has been truly rewarding to see some of the upperclassmen mentor the sophomores, to make an effort to stay involved with Avalonia, and keep what they learned close at heart as they move out into their next phase of life and learning. Congratulations and best wishes to all the students of GNCE, especially the graduates.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

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