Learning environment

Professor Jessica Leahy
Professor Jessica Leahy and Cori

This semester in SFR220 — Environment and Society, professor Jessica Leahy canceled a week of lectures focused on public lands and asked students to spend an hour hiking, walking and otherwise experiencing conservation areas near them. The students uploaded images from their outings — rock climbing, hiking to the top of Katahdin, swimming at Tumbledown and more — and reflected on how public lands provide recreational, educational and health benefits. For students unable to walk or hike, two documentaries focused on the U.S. Forest Service and its founder, Gifford Pinchot, were available for viewing. Leahy, professor of human dimensions of natural resources, completed the assignment herself, accompanied by her dog Cori, who is named after Gifford Pinchot’s wife, Cornelia Bryce Pinchot.

In SFR478 — Tools for Forest Management, Leahy modified the course to take advantage of forests managed by the University of Maine and Orono Land Trust that were within walking distance of campus. All classes are outdoors until mid-November. Students were given the option of completing assignments at these properties, their senior capstone sites, or could propose alternative activities that met the learning objectives. Students work in small groups or solo based on their preferences. One student attends class from his camp using a cell phone hotspot and completes assignments at his senior capstone site in E Plantation, Aroostook County. Another remote student is preparing a tree planting plan for Bethel Community Forest in Oxford County.