Thursday, September 14, 2017
Read the full case study report here
Prepared for Antioch University New England and the Wellborn Ecology Fund by PEER Associates with primary author Amy Powers, August 2017.
"....Many people know Ludlow, a town of about 2000 in south central Vermont, as the home of Okemo Mountain ski resort. There’s a smaller (both in number and stature) group of people who know it as the home of Dirt City. “Discovered” by a pair of local kindergarteners, the main attraction at Dirt City is not a ski hill, but a giant pine tree, whose tipped-up root ball stands 10-12 feet high, with a gully and a trickle of water running beneath. Every Friday, the townspeople of Dirt City, Ludlow’s kindergarten and first graders, spend the school day running along the length of that downed pine tree, dodging in and out of the branches, spotting woodland neighbors, all the while solving problems together, reading and writing, and
learning the difference between a risk and a hazard. According one of their teachers,
"They really believe Forest Friday is their world, and their classroom. I try to make the [indoor] classroom theirs, but in their mind it’s still mine, not theirs. They join me in the classroom, but out there, in Dirt City, they have ownership. They find these places and they name these places."
These young Vermonters are taking part in an emerging wave of Forest Days programs cropping up across Vermont and New Hampshire. While playing and learning in the woods is still a novel concept in today’s schools, in Vermont it is a time honored tradition almost as old as the hills themselves....."