Washington County July 1, 2023

A Forest Health Collaboration

In fall of 2023, the LENE network hosted a Seasonal Learning Theme around Forest Health. This new approach aimed to engage and support educators of all kinds in providing multiple pathways for youth to explore a specific phenomena impacted by climate change. The hope was that gathering folks around a common theme would help to implement climate and data learning across the Northeast. This story is one such example.

A newly appointed librarian at Gallison Memorial Library in Harrington, Maine wanted to make connections with the local communities. Working together with Washington County 4-H, they were able to plan and host a 5 week 4-H Special Interest (SPIN) club centered around forest health. They had 6 homeschool kids from 3 towns attend and for two of them, it was their first time at the Gallison Memorial Library!

Each week the 4-H Specialist and Librarian team led the youth through different activities from the LENE Forest Health STEAM kit. They observed tree cookies to determine the trees’ age and translated their data into bracelets. They also engaged in hands-on activities that explored the differences between weather and climate and went on to create origami pine trees. Along with the climate themed data activities, crafts, youth played games including forest change charades, rock-paper-scissors forest succession, and pest-disease matching. They had a great time learning and exploring and by the final week they concluded that our climate determines the tree species that are able to grow and survive and were even sharing their own ideas for forest health related activities.

Youth, families and facilitators had a blast participating in this 4-H program. All of the materials developed and utilized during this project are available to all in the community including four books from Maine State Libraries vetted Forest Health Program Guide. For the Gallison Librarian, this SPIN club is just the beginning; they plan to continue 4-H clubs at the library year-round to keep connecting with the local communities.