Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What we've done up to now

The Outdoor Classroom in Big Stone Gap will be located on the Greenbelt which is a walking trail that encircles the town. At present it is used by people of all ages for excercise and recreation. We would like to add a learning component to this trail in the form of an Outdoor Classroom Trail (OCT).

The premis of the OCT is three-fold:
1. To create a trail of informative, hands-on, interactive stations for the community, students and tourists that will encourage critical thinking and questions about the watershed and environment here in SW Virginia and on a larger scale, the Appalachian Mountains as part of the World's ecosystem
2. To challenge in dividuals and groups to think about what they can do to help preseve our beautiful but fragile local watershed
3. To empower residents to take an active role in the development of effective strategies for addressing the long term causes of environmental and public health inpacts

We have had several community meetings and converstions with local educators. Out of all this we have decicded that a historical progression from early "Native American" times through "European Colonization" and to "Industrializtion" (which would include up to present day), with a station on "What you can do" and a "Wetlands" station would be the best way to show what was here as far a flora and fauna and how changes in water quality has changed the river ecosystem.

The OTC will start a mile marker .2 and this phase of the OTC will end near mile marker .9. We hope to secure funding to fully realize the educational potential and opportunity that the Greenbelt provides.

We would love to have comments, criticisms and suggestions as we progess with this endeavour. This is the community's Outdoor Classroom Trail and to that end we want the community to feel a sense of possession!

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