Saturday, May 24, 2014

Garlic Mustard Galore with Undermountain Elemetary's Trails to Every Classroom (T.T.E.C.) Students

We are lucky to have such an enthusiastic bunch of A Trail to Every Classroom (T.T.E.C.) students within 5 miles of the Kellogg Conservation Center. Fourth grade teacher at Undermountain Elementary, Sue Garcia, recently joined the T.T.E.C. program, and is very excited to have this great outdoor resource so close to her students’ indoor classroom.


Her students have had the chance to take to the outdoor classroom of the Appalachian Trail, going on several naturalist and invasive plant identification hikes with A.T.C. staff and Berkshire Appalachian Mountain Club/Berkshire A.T. Committee volunteers, and Great Barrington Trails partners.  They have had guest speakers talk about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, and they learned about the Boundary and corridor protecting the Appalachian Trail.

On May 7th, Mrs. Garcia’s class came to the Kellogg Conservation Center (KCC) to work with us on an invasive plant removal project. Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is invading the trail near the KCC, especially on the East side of Route 41. The 13 students with their teachers and chaperones, listened attentively as ATC’s Northern Resource Management Coordinator, Marian Orlousky, explain and show what Garlic Mustard is, why it is non-native, why this time period in May is best to remove it (before it flowers and seeds), how to remove it, and how to dispose of it.

Marian Orlousky shows the students garlic mustard plants.

The very excited group predicted they would pull-up about 30 odd pounds of garlic mustard in their 3 hour timeframe. The group was joined by Steven Smith, the Mass A.T. Committee Natural Resources Coordinator, and Silvia Cassano, the Trail Management Assistant in Southern New England  based out of KCC.

Working feverishly, the group started filling more bags than they thought, focusing on getting all the garlic mustard in each square of space they were working on close to the trail.  The guessing for the total weight of the bags kept growing. A section-hiker even walked by and thanked them for what they were doing, and the kids asked him what his trail name was. Pulling invasives can get tiring, so the work was broken up by a few Leave No Trace Trail Ethic lessons. How far is 100’ off the trail? Your disposable water bottle takes how long to decompose? These kids have it down.


Busy at work
In total the 4th graders succeeded by ATC estimation (magical scales of experience) to have pulled up about 287± pounds of garlic mustard! They were very excited to be able to contribute the pounds they collected to the Garlic Mustard Challenge that The Stewardship Network out of Michigan hosts each year.

So many bags of garlic mustard!
We at the Kellogg Conservation Center /Appalachian Trail Conservancy look forward to working with Mrs. Garcia’s class and future classes again! Thank you to Steve Smith for helping to coordinate this day! We hope her students keep teaching what they know to the people in their lives. They already have become great stewards and are knowledgeable on so many topics involving hiking and the outdoors in the Berkshires! Three “Water Hydration Break Toasts” to Mrs. Garcia’s 4th Graders!

Other Resources:
-Read more about A Trail to Every Classroom
-Read Mrs. Garcia’s Blog Post on “Passing on the A.T. Bug”
-Another T.T.E.C. teacher’s blog on speaking to Mrs. Garcia’s Class on Thru-Hiking the A.T.
-Great Invasive Plant Guide on how to ID and control invasives:  “A Guide to Invasive Plants in Massachusetts”
-Quick Visual of Common Invasive Plants in Massachusetts by Mass Audubon
-Very Science-Minded article on Garlic Mustard from Harvard

-Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics Activities for Kids!


Mrs. Garcia's Garlic Mustard Pulling Team



And one for fun...


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