PCHS environmental science class receives Maine Woods Forever Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award

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UNITY — Maine Woods Forever presented the Piscataquis Community Secondary School grade 9-10 environmental science class with the 2017 “Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award” – a youth-oriented honor created to recognize young people and youth groups whose efforts are in the spirit of Roosevelt’s conservation ethic and achievements.

The award honors what Maine’s youth are doing to appreciate and conserve the forest heritage. It also encourages them to become future conservation leaders. The three honor recipients were recognized on April 7 at Unity College.

“The Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award honors today’s young people and the legacy of America’s most celebrated conservationist, President Theodore Roosevelt,” notes John Rust, chair of the award committee. “Many credit his rugged sojourns in Maine during the late 1800s with shaping his determination to conserve our natural world. This year’s award recipients have clearly lived up to this ethic.”

The PCHS environmental science class, studying under teacher Heather Doherty, was presented an award for outstanding achievement by a youth organization to recognize their activities as citizen scientists to gather and share scientific data about Maine’s forests.

The class is involved in many outside activities in Guilford and Dover-Foxcroft. One example is participating as citizen scientists in the Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District’s (PCSWCD) BioBlitz at the Law Farm in October. A BioBlitz is an event in which teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers and others work together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi and other organisms as possible in a designated area.

Students worked with experts in their fields to take an accumulative inventory of all vegetative species, identifying unknown species with provided resources. All signs of wildlife ranging from tracks, scat, nests, even an antler shed were inventoried to document the species that inhabited the property. At the end of the day the pupils presented the plethora of data they had collected to the group of volunteers, teachers and fellow students.

In working with the professional volunteers, students also learned about potential careers and the importance of conserving Maine’s forest. “Through hands-on-training the students were able to put themselves in the shoes of professionals for a day and see what a career in conservation might be like,” said Nicholas Butler, soil survey office leader for the district

The class not only helped PCSWCD, but students have also worked to identify trees, plants, animal signs and other natural features that will be used for a self-interpretive nature trail for students and the community on the school grounds.

The award was accepted by sophomores Alivia Hunt and Alison Quimby and Doherty. PCSWCD board of supervisors and staff with Executive Director Joanna Tarrazi made the nomination.

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