Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s New Stem to Stern Program Connects Forests and Waterways
As America prepares to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Erie and Champlain Canals, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) is bringing together the themes of forest stewardship, woodcraft, boat building and waterways into new curriculum materials and school programs in an initiative known as “Stem to Stern.” “We are grateful to the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) for a grant that supported the development of this
interactive and discovery-based curriculum in conjunction with the 2017 voyage of canal schooner Lois McClure,” said Elizabeth Lee, Education Director. “We are excited to weave together hands-on activities like seedling care and wood working, with conceptual exercises such as researching how local waterways were used for timber transport and milling lumber, and how the inland waterways shaped our nation.”
The CVNHP grant also supported evaluation of pilot programs, and creation of lesson plans that focus on interpreting human impact on waterways. “The mission of LCMM’s schooner Lois McClure is always to connect the history and archaeology of the Champlain Valley and the canals to the challenges we face today,” said Erick Tichonuk, LCMM Co-Executive Director, who is coordinator of the schooner’s four month tour. “The Canal Bicentennial has been helping all of us learn lessons from the building of the canal system that still resonate in today’s environment.”
In recognition and celebration of White Oak and White Pine, the principal tree species that have served as boat building timber in the Northeast for centuries, LCMM is integrating forest stewardship into these new school programs. LCMM worked with Vermont Family Forests, the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at SUNY Syracuse, and the “Trees for Tribs” program of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. David Brynn and Sandra Murphy of Vermont Family Forests and AmeriCorps member Matt Harrison worked with LCMM educators to incorporate archival research into lesson plans about land use, boat building, forestry and the history of the timber industry. New standards-aligned materials are available for teachers and students for further study.
The curriculum and lesson plans developed with support from CVNHP are now being offered to students in grades 5 through 12 in New York and Vermont schools in the Champlain Valley, thanks to a grant from the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) through the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP). Activities weave together the role of trees in protecting soil and water, and the importance of trees to boat building. LCMM also hosted a tree planting at each school to connect the students with a wider reforestation initiative. Trees for Vermont schools came from Carl Phelps Miller Hill Farm Nursery & Gardens, Sudbury, VT, and trees for New York schools were provided by Trees For Tributaries (“Trees for Tribs”), a program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Participating schools were also invited to reserve a free visit to LCMM’s schooner Lois McClure while she is docked in the North Harbor.