Thinking Beyond the Boundary
From the Trail to the Classroom
David Kallin, President
A Note from the President
Our quarterly newsletter covers usually feature a stunning photo of the Appalachian Trail landscape here in Maine, often taken on one of our community hikes, often showing blue skies and greenery. This spring, we decided to feature a few images of what the A.T. in Maine often looks like in spring - muddy, brown, cloudy and damp. Spring is long in Maine and it deserves its due; it has a beauty all its own as the landscape springs to life.
As my term begins, we are entering a new era for the Appalachian Trail in Maine. This organization is working on the next slate of conservation projects even as we complete ones like Bald Mountain Pond. It will be an exciting era and we thank our supporters for joining us in these efforts. As I begin my first term as president, I'm hopeful that the A.T. will continue to advance in its role as the preeminent landscape in the eastern United States.
This will be the last printed issue of Maine A.T. Magazine. The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust has decided to end the print version in order to focus on making the publication exclusively web- and email-based. Due to printing and postage costs, we've had to limit the great content provided by our contributors and the organization has decided in favor of increasing content for our members, at the expense of printing paper editions. This will enable the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust to maintain quarterly issues that will be longer, better and more interactive (with links!), while continuing to reach the majority of members.
If you are not an electronic subscriber please contact us at 207-808-2073 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements to receive the e-newsletter. Additionally, we welcome feedback about this decision - please feel free to reach out if you want to share your thoughts.
From the Trail to the Classroom:
Fourth graders at Longfellow Elementary School in Portland learn about the state of Maine in the Maine Studies Unit which focuses on Maine’s government, history, geography, and economy. The unit begins with an introduction to the branches of government and a field trip to the State House. Unit highlights include a visit from The Osher Map Library, where students are sent on a Maine map scavenger hunt to improve their map navigational skills. Through multimedia, students explore Maine’s economy by learning about the importance of timber, tourism, maple syrup, lobster, potatoes and blueberries. Students research and create a Maine Tourism brochure of a region they are inspired by. The culminating project encourages students to use their creativity in the kitchen by inventing a recipe that best resembles the state of Maine using locally sourced ingredients.
As a teacher I believe it is important to continuously think about how to make learning as hands on as possible while helping students make connections across the curriculum (as opposed to thinking about each subject in isolation). This year I decided to revise the unit to include a focus on conservation and preservation. Throughout the year, students in my classroom have been learning to be good stewards of the environment. The Appalachian Trail is a unique part of Maine, it runs through our vast wilderness, attracts hikers from all over the world and its terminus is Maine’s highest peak. For these reasons I reached out to The Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust and asked if they would visit the classroom and teach students about the history of the trail and the importance of preservation.
On April 11th, Simon Rucker, Executive Director, paid us a visit, and the energy and enthusiasm was amazing. The visit included an interactive slideshow that taught students about the trail and what it incorporates. Following the presentation, students broke into groups and competed in map trivia by thoroughly analyzing different maps of the AT. The classroom was buzzing and students were motivated by the stickers and hats used as an incentive to participate. Students walked away with a much greater appreciation of the trail and how lucky we are to have it here in Maine.
4th graders are impressionable; teaching them about preservation and conservation in school is key to helping them become active and involved members of society. The overall goal of this unit is for students to walk away with a better understanding of what makes Maine special. Many students have never left the city of Portland so to raise awareness and open their eyes to what exists outside of the greater Portland area inspires them to become better citizens of their school and the larger community. They truly can make a difference if they are given the tools to do so. So thank you Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust for inspiring future generations to appreciate and take care of the resources that make Maine unique.
Megan Markgren is a third and fourth grade looping teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Portland, Maine. In addition to teaching, she spends her time hiking, fly fishing and traveling the world with her husband.
The A.T. as an Educational Resource
By Megan Markgren
In and around Maine's largest city
By Kara Wooldrik
You probably have a story about that epic multi-day hike. Maybe it was about the weather, your adventure pals, the forgotten tent poles or an encounter with wildlife. But what about your weekly morning run with your neighbor when you share stories of your kids? Or, how about that bike commute to work that takes a few more minutes but is so worth it because you get to glimpse the ocean, river, or mountains in their morning glory?
A #traillife is not made only by annual adventures. An outdoor life is created every single day. It means going for a morning walk, or a post-work mountain bike ride or celebrating a snow day by getting fresh XC tracks in the local cemetery. When a trail or green space is within a half mile of a person’s home, they are more likely to use it. People who regularly use local green spaces are physically, mentally and emotionally more healthy. Healthier individuals leads to thriving diverse neighborhoods, better schools and a more resilient and robust economy.
In and around Maine’s largest city, Portland Trails serves the 230,000 residents and many of the area’s 4 million annual visitors. The trail network, which is within a ½ mile of every residence, provides free recreation and active transportation options for adults and children every day. The livability of a community is enhanced by desirable experiences, points and destinations that promote interaction. This includes shared spaces such as streets, sidewalks, parks, plazas, greenspaces, and trails. Through community activities, residents and local businesses help determine the type of enhancements that they will make our neighborhoods healthier, happier and better for all. Where possible, community work days engage residents and businesses with the materialization of those ideas in order to build a relationship between people and places.
Being able to get to desired destinations by walking and cycling enables people to live without the expense of an automobile. From any neighborhood, one can now access schools and grocery stores by trail. When trails are part of the transportation system, it means we are thinking about bus stops, schools, grocery stores, community centers, libraries, Service centers, affordable housing. Trails become tools for social justice, economic development, public health, environmental sustainability, community building and empowerment.
There is nothing mundane about “everyday trails”.
The daily experiences blend together and become how and where and with whom we spend our treasured “free” time. So, whether it is a child’s first step, a joyful bike commute, shared family time, fourteen years of walks with a beloved pet, or treasured alone time in nature, these“moments of delight” are the life we are creating.
Kara has been the Executive Director of Portland Trails since 2012, and has used the trail network as a runner, cyclist, commuter, dog-owner, skier, and self proclaimed “nature nerd” for 15 years. She serves on numerous state, regional and national boards and committees focused on increasing environmental literacy.
An Awe-Inspiring Landscape that is the ‘Wild East’
By Anne Baker
Thinking Beyond the Boundary
To wholeheartedly protect the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) today, we have to broaden our perspective. We need little convincing to understand the Trail is an incredible recreational opportunity; after all, its designation as a National Scenic Trail and its administration as a National Park Service unit ensure the nearly 2,200-mile-long A.T. is not only enjoyed but also appreciated. Yet the Trail isn’t just a footpath for hikers—it is the backbone of a great landscape, and it is something that connects us to a natural world we all can have a part in conserving.
Nearly 100 years ago, the A.T. was born from a simple idea. Benton MacKaye, the planner and forester who envisioned the Trail, wanted Americans to see untouched nature in all its beauty while breathing in the quiet and replenishing their spirits. Today, that vision is a reality, and the Trail, a not-so-simple footpath, has become one of America’s most beloved landmarks.
Yet MacKaye’s vision was larger than a trail. A narrow corridor squeezing through increasingly developed regions of the East Coast, crisscrossed with utility lines, dotted with wind towers and invaded by unnatural sounds was not what he had in mind. Instead, he thought of a wide greenway, valued and protected because of its iconic attributes: “…a realm, and not merely a trail, marks the full aim of our efforts,” MacKaye said.
As urban growth continues to put pressure on our natural treasures, the work of conservationists is shifting. Collaboration is becoming key as federal land managers, nonprofit organizations, land trusts and local communities work together to advance an integrated and dynamic approach to protecting wildness across America.
Cooperative management has always been part of the A.T.’s protection, but now, nearly 100 years after MacKaye first proposed his Appalachian Skyline, it is more important than ever before.
As the backbone of the last remaining contiguous landscape in the East—what is now being called the “Wild East”—the Trail is recognized for its natural, scenic and recreational values in addition to its cultural, historic and community-oriented values. To ensure those important attributes are protected, the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership was founded in 2015, furthering the idea of collaborative conservation. Now, close to 100 partners, including Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, have a stake in the conservation of the A.T. landscape. As Laura Belleville, ATC’s Vice President of Conservation and Trail Programs, says: “We all champion the same thing: maintaining a sense of place, clean water, beautiful views, remoteness—those values are just as important to the people who live near the Trail as they are to a thru-hiker.”
The A.T. is a groundbreaking American and global conservation model with a proud 100-year history. Achieving a broader vision of a thriving Wild East will benefit natural and human communities in the years and decades to come. Just like the A.T. is the People’s Trail, Wild East is our landscape—and together, we can ensure this dynamic approach to landscape conservation thrives.
Anne is the landscape partnership manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. In 2017, she hiked more than 1,300 miles of the A.T. with her father, and she feels fortunate she is able to work to protect the Trail that has changed her life.
Trail Land Trust
P.O. Box 761
Portland, ME 04104