Graduate students in the Environment-Based Learning
(EBL) program at Mary Baldwin will soon have the opportunity to access the Appalachian Trail as an educational resource through the Trail to Every Classroom (TTEC), a professional development program managed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Park Service. TTEC trains its participants in place-based education and service learning on the trail, giving them tools to teach volunteerism, healthy lifestyles, a conservation ethic, and love of learning to K–12 students.

“The Trail to Every Classroom is a great program and we in Graduate Teacher Education are excited to partner with such respected organizations as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Park Service,” said Tamra Willis, associate professor of education and program director for EBL. “TTEC shares and complements the place-based and service-learning aspects of the Environment-Based Learning program at Mary Baldwin. Working with these partners to provide graduate credit for TTEC will help increase our geographic scope for teachers from Maine to Georgia.”

Beginning in 2013, Mary Baldwin students who complete the TTEC program can earn three graduate credits toward their master of education at a discounted rate. Students will develop their own experiential learning curriculum, based on state educational standards, that integrates a hands-on study of the trail. To receive credit, Mary Baldwin students will submit that curriculum, participate in the TTEC blog, and synthesize their experience in a paper and presentation.

EBL uses the outdoors to engage students and motivate them to learn. Studies have shown that this method can increase student achievement and environmental responsibility, as well as develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Photos courtesy of TTEC.