Environmental Science Goes Into the Field


Ari Cox, a junior, records data for a forestry study as Cassie Paley hangs from a grapevine near her. “Forests are wonderful places to go to,” said Cassie, who is taking Environmental Science at State High during her senior year. (Photo courtesy of John Donoughe)

Quincy Steidle, Staff Writer

The Brush Mountain Sportsmen’s Association property became an outdoor classroom for a group of State High students on October 23. Along with teacher John Donoughe, Environmental Science students participated in a real-life study involving topics of forestry and dendrology (the study of trees) that they learned in class.  The study was about determining the market value of an area managed for wildlife habitation and, in the future, to generate income, students used a compass and pacing tactics to ensure results of the study were random and unbiased.

“The club has over 600 acres of forest and developed a 10-year management plan with the help of a consulting forester,” Mr. Donoughe said. “When the work was complete, we did a walking tour of the property to see many of the forest management practices that have been in place for up to nine years and are already yielding results.”  The study the students completed showed that the area they surveyed is making good progress towards being harvested.

“Students worked in teams of three or six depending upon the data being collected.  Some worked harder than others, some didn’t like getting their shoes muddy, others were very excited to be working in the field.  Everyone seemed to enjoy lunch on the log. Most would agree that you just can’t beat using the woods as a classroom on a gorgeous fall day,” Mr. Donoughe said.

“Even those who were not engaged during class participated and worked hard during our trip. It seemed like in a different environment, everyone had the opportunity to do well,” Ari Cox, a junior who participated in the study, said.

“We were able to gain real-world experience while also helping a larger organization,” Cox said. Since the Brush Mountain Sportsmen’s Association is a nonprofit organization, the participants earned three hours of community service for their work in collecting the data in addition to a hands-on experience in the areas they had been studying in the classroom.