WEST GREENWICH — Approximately 20 students from the Greene School in West Greenwich will be getting a hands-on learning experience of the outdoors while helping connect three hiking trails in the area.
Greene School is a public charter high school that houses 120 students.
Teacher Jeff Johnson explained that twice a year the students are mandated to enroll in “intensives.”
He said that the week long program offers an intense curriculum and a more proactive approach to education.
He said students who are passing all their classes get to choose from five different intensive programs.
Other programs include: converting fuel for a Mercedes into vegetable oil, landscape project in Westerly, Shakespeare themed intensive and a 100 mile dinner, in which all food must come from farms within 100 miles.
For this intensive, the various students ranging from 15-years old to 17-years old chose to help clean up and expand the hiking trails near Tillinghast Pond.
Tim Mooney, Preserves Manager for the Nature Conservancy, explained that the protected area the students will be camping on, has been owned by West Greenwich for approximately five years.
He said there is currently six miles of hiking trails on the property. The public can also fish and hunt as well.
“This is not something we’ve ever considered before; we don’t allow camping on the property,” he said. “But Mr. Johnson laid out a compelling vision for the opportunity to educate his students about the principles of leave no trace and to give them a chance to do some journaling. It was persuasive because it falls between the school calendar so they are still in school and this is like an outdoor classroom.”
The students will be splitting their four days between lectures, quizzes and working with Mooney to enhance the existing trails.
The students will be helping him clear segments of the trails and connect them with the Wickaboxet Management Area and the West Greenwich Land Trust property.
He said the students will also be putting in steps on a slope that is too steep for hikers.
“While we’re out here we’ll be teaching the students how to do CPR and first aid so the students become first aid certified,” Johnson said. “The students will also be kayaking and learning kayak safety.”
Johnson will be teaching his students the idea of leave no trace, enjoying the use of property without having an impact on the wildlife and habitat.
The students will also be learning tool handling, tool training and wildlife and plant identification during the week.
“In terms of environmental education, we at the nature conservancy don’t have the capacity of doing classroom based education,” Mooney said. “These 20 kids, in four days, will be getting tons of outdoor experience and environmental education.”
He said in the future the Nature Conservancy may look at other proposals from schools. He said the scheduled and criteria the Greene School drew up for this week will be the model used.