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ADK Receives Leave No Trace Youth Program Accreditation

ADK Receives Leave No Trace Youth Program Accreditation

June 16, 2020

ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) is excited to announce that the Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program: Three Seasons at Heart Lake is now an accredited youth program through the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Leave No Trace Youth Program Accreditation provides youth-serving organizations with resources that enhance the impacts of stewardship education for young people who spend time in the outdoors. “Leave No Trace Accredited Youth Programs are committed to the highest education standards and best practices for teaching today’s young people about responsible recreation,” said Andrew Leary, National Outreach Manager for Leave No Trace. “Fantastic job to the entire team at ADK for their outstanding commitment for promoting Leave No Trace practices in youth programming.”

Founded in 2003, Three Seasons at Heart Lake is ADK’s inquiry-based environmental youth education program, which weaves together responsible outdoor recreation, wellness, and Adirondack history. The program seeks to achieve three significant goals: promoting responsible outdoor recreation, scientific inquiry, and eco-literacy. Annually the program reaches 400-500 rural and urban fourth-grade students in twelve northern New York elementary schools. Three Seasons at Heart Lake has three components: classroom programs, journals, and field outings. All are designed in conjunction with teachers to help meet classroom goals and are aligned with New York State learning standards.

ADK integrates academic disciplines by providing activities such as comparing habitats, studying animal behavior through tracking, writing poetry, and keeping a field journal. This approach engages students who excel in every subject and emphasizes critical thinking, teamwork, and decision making, as well as encouraging creativity and curiosity. Every fall, winter, and spring, ADK educators go into the classrooms of participating schools. They present engaging lessons on Leave No Trace, outdoor preparedness, natural and cultural history of the area, and skills such as map making. Paired with each seasonal classroom experience is a field outing to ADK’s Heart Lake Program Center in Lake Placid, NY where students take what they learned in the classroom and apply it to the outdoors. This includes engaging activities like hiking a mountain on the property, learning how to use snowshoes, identifying plants, and more.

Now that Three Seasons at Heart Lake has received Leave No Trace Youth Accreditation, ADK educators will coordinate with Leave No Trace to develop one to five year action plans that allow ADK to enhance its Leave No Trace-specific programming and stay informed about current trends and research. Tom Manitta, ADK’s Outreach Coordinator, has been involved with the program for the last six years and worked closely with Leave No Trace to achieve the recognition. “Working to inspire the next generation to care for our environment and recreate responsibly is by far the most rewarding part of my job. I am so proud to work with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to ensure our program is as successful as it can be in encouraging the stewardship of our natural world,” he said.

At this time, ADK’s education staff would normally be leading fourth graders on their annual spring hike at the Heart Lake Program Center, which focuses on plant identification, spring ecology, and reading maps. With schools operating remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, ADK educators have adapted the Three Seasons at Heart Lake curriculum in order to reach students as they engage in remote online learning. ADK educators transformed their living room into a digital classroom and led programs via online platforms with students from 5 of the 12 participating schools. ADK has also developed video content to share directly with students and their families, which has encouraged them to get outside and explore spring growth the same way they would have during the spring hike at the Heart Lake Program Center. “Thanks to Tom and Maggie for a fun virtual lesson,” said Andrea Kilbourne-Hill from St. Bernard’s School.I’ve already heard from parents that they have mapped out their whole house! I plan on having them map their backyard next week.”

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