ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND LEAVE NO TRACE OUTDOOR ETHICS
When Teamlink was formed in 1993, so much of our focus was involving our guests in the outdoors classroom that it was only natural that our educational programs would evolve and expand to include source-to-confluence watershed/ecosystem awareness and Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics. These are issues of environmental awareness that the Teamlink/SMG staff has been involved with for more than 30 years.
At our operational base, 3,500 feet above and 100 miles NW of the Chesapeake Bay, we are centered at the headwaters of several pristine trout streams and upland wetlands. These waters, our waters, travel down slope through forest, field and farm, eventually to traverse a land experiencing the intense development pressure of mid-Atlantic suburbia… arriving at the Chesapeake changed, used and re-used during the journey.
In 2003, the Northern Blue Ridge Watershed Institute™ was conceived, in part, as a result of our ground breaking middle school educational programs. In that year, we guided students as they conducted water quality inventories and traveled (under their own power) the length of the Rappahannock River.. from mountain spring to the confluence with the Chesapeake Bay. The experience was transformational for all who participated.
We are pleased that providing enhanced, experiential watershed awareness education throughout the northern Blue Ridge/Catoctin region of VA, MD and WV is of our principle missions.
Through our partnership with schools, school systems and communities, we conduct interactive, hands on, learning experiences for all ages. In our programs, our canoes cease being boats… they become portable waterborne laboratories, allowing students to observe riverine habitat in an “up close and personal” way, seeing first hand the good and the bad. Otherwise out-of-reach riparian zones, unique ecosystems, riverside land uses and points of water withdrawal / waste discharge are all easy to reach with a few paddle strokes.
As an educational resource, we coordinate with teachers at all levels, K-12+, to develop and offer enrichment programming that is meaningful and in direct support of their teaching goals and SOLs. As a close educational partner with Shenandoah National Park, we are permitted to use the Park as a “living classroom” in which students can see, hear, smell, measure and feel the subjects of their earth science studies.
All of our staff are highly involved and animated environmental educators. They are also internationally certified LNT Trainers. Our senior staff are LNT Master Educators (of only few hundred practicing master educators or so in the world!)
The combination of guides, gear and expertise (not to mention permits and insurance), enable our students to not only learn the classroom side of watershed issues, but to personally experience the watershed as a whole. Students can seek out, touch and taste, the exact sources… headwaters high atop remote mountain summits and follow their courses as they tumble down the slopes, merging, flowing and growing on their race to the sea.
Beyond simply learning and raising awareness of the importance of intact watersheds and ecosystems, students are also encouraged to take active roles in protection and restoration. All our efforts make a big difference. From our small watersheds in the northern Blue Ridge flow the waters that bring life to the heart of the mid-Atlantic.
The opportunities to become involved are numerous…
We offer a calendar full of activities designed to discover the wonders of our Blue Ridge, Allegheny and Catoctin highlands and watersheds. From ages of 5 to 105, there is programming and opportunity for all… canoe trips, hikes, exploratory expeditions, community involvement, service learning activities and volunteer staff positions.
The total ecosystem experience found in our programming is growing. Call or e-mail us to see how you can be part of the experience.