We hosted sixteen educators on our second 2022 Forests of Maine Teachers’ Tour in the Bethel region during the final week of July. These educators joined Maine TREE staff and volunteers for an immersive tour of Maine’s forests with the primary objective of providing them with tools and resources to use forest-based activities in the classroom.
The teachers arrived at the Bethel Inn on Tuesday, July 26, and participated in a Project Learning Tree (PLT) workshop. During the workshop, we focused on using PLT’s Explore Your Environment Activity Guide and Green Jobs: Exploring Green Careers Guide with students and how to adapt activities for different ages and audiences. After dinner, our evening guest speaker, Lindsay Strout, a science teacher at Sanford High School and PLT Facilitator, shared simple methods for incorporating nature journaling into any class.
On Wednesday morning, we made our first tour stop at Hancock Lumber in Bethel, where we learned how they turn white pine logs harvested from local forests into lumber products. Much of the discussion focused on various career pathways and opportunities local mills provide. In the afternoon, we visited Chadbourne Tree Farm, a property recently acquired by The Conservation Fund, where we learned about how forest conservation works in Maine. While visiting the property, we learned about forest management decision-making from the LandVest forester responsible for developing the property’s forest management and harvest plans. Other professionals joined the group throughout the day to present on specific topics. Maine Forest Service District Forester Mike Richard joined the group for the day and shared tree identification skills with the participants. In addition, the group received a directional felling demonstration from Certified Logging Professional safety instructor Mike St. Peter. After dinner, Jake Metzler, Director of Forestland Conservation at the Forest Society of Maine (FSM), spoke on how FSM works with private landowners to conserve forest land, career opportunities at land trusts, and ways land trusts can be a resource for local schools.
Our Thursday tour stops included Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, an active mechanical harvest operation, and a maple syrup operation. At Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, we learned how they promote habitat for different species throughout the forest by implementing specific harvesting techniques based on desired outcomes from old forest conditions to early successional habitat. Next, we stopped for lunch on the shores of Umbagog Lake, where Maine Forest Service Director and State Forester Patty Cormier shared the Maine Forest Service’s current priorities and how they can be a resource for educators. After lunch, we visited a site poised for a stream crossing upgrade and a mechanical harvest operation. Here the teachers learned about the different types of machinery and product sorts. For our final tour stop, we visited Sap Hound Maple Company, where we learned about the process of making maple syrup starting before putting a tap in the tree to the final product.
The final morning of the tour featured a forestry measurement activity led by retired Maine Forest Service biometrician Ken Laustsen and an overview of the Forest Ecology Research Network (FERN). The educators tested many methods to measure tree diameter and height during the activity. As we concluded, we saved space for everyone to share the moments of the tour that were most impactful and additional strategies for implementing forest-based educational activities in the classroom.
We thank our underwriters, scholarship providers, and supporters for helping make this tour possible!
Teacher Scholarship Providers
Special Thanks to Maine Timberlands Charitable Trust for their generous support