Teaching in the Trees

October 5, 2017

The beginning of October marked a new chapter in the history books of Walnut Hill Nature Preserve. The weather was perfect on this day; sunny and 70’s for a comfortable trip into the woods. Arriving by bus, 22 students from nearby Knightdale High School arrived on the property at noon. While not the first students to step foot on Walnut Hill, these AP Environmental students are the first that will be able to make multiple visits to the property throughout their semester to have hands-on learning experiences surrounded by nature.

The task of the day was to walk a transect line through the woods using their unreliable cell-phone compass and stop every 10 feet to measure the closest four trees that were over four inches in diameter. They used Biltmore sticks, developed at the famed Biltmore Estate early in the 1900’s in Asheville by Carl Schenck, to measure the trees which they then had to identify using a basic tree species list. Back in the classroom they will look at the data to document species diversity as well as the forest structure. It was a great hands-on lab for these students and a unique opportunity to get kids out of the classroom and into the woods.

Biltmore stick measuring tree (photo by Kathy Bernier)

As this partnership moves forward, there will be more and more opportunities offered to many groups to have a natural space to learn and research. Thank you to all supporters who have helped in many of these projects and I can’t wait to share more as opportunities expand out at Walnut Hill. This is The Dirt- Tales from the Field.

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