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The Watershed Forestry Institute for Teachers
The Watershed Forestry Institute for Teachers (WFIT) is a professional development opportunity for upstate and downstate teachers in the Catskill/Delaware and Croton Watersheds and New York City to come together for a week of forestry and watershed education in the Catskills. Teachers receive in-service credit and a stipend for attending WFIT, and are given exposure to the many different ways in which they can use watershed resources in educational curriculum for their students.
The 2011 Institute will take place July 31 - August 5 at Taconic Outdoor Education Center in Cold Spring, NY.
The official website for the 2011 Watershed Forestry Institute for Teachers is: http://nycwatershed.org/for_teachersinstitute.html.
HISTORY & PURPOSE
The Watershed Forestry Institute for Teachers (WFIT) began in 1999 as a partnership between The Watershed Forestry Program of the Watershed Agricultural Council, the Catskill Forest Association, the USDA Forest Service, The New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Its mission is to provide educators with knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to explore the connection between upstate watershed forests and downstate water quality. By providing this foundation, educators can effectively teach their students about the relationships among forest ecology, forest resource management, conservation, and water quality.
The relationship between forests and water quality is critically important for children and adults to understand, especially in the Catskill Mountains and NYC. The Catskill Mountains supply New York City's 8 million people (and another 1 million north of the City) with 1.2 billion gallons of unfiltered water each and every day. The abundant and pristine streams within "America's First Wilderness" feed six massive reservoirs that release water into underground aqueducts that transport the water underneath the Hudson River, and into New York City, over 100 miles away.
Upon the signing of the historic 1997 Memorandum of Agreement between New York City and all of the Watershed townships, the rural communities in the Catskill Mountains are forever linked with the greatest city in the world.
The premise of this connection is water, the world's most precious natural resource. If the protection and stewardship of this resource is going to continue, these two very different environments and cultures must understand and learn from one another. The Watershed Forestry Institute for Teachers is an initial step in educating youth, our future caretakers and stewards, about the importance and interdependencies of both the Catskill Mountains and New York City.
Twenty teachers from the Catskill Mountains and New York City are brought together for one week, and they are provided background knowledge, materials, and resources necessary to educate their students about the importance of this unique connection.
The hands-on, place-based activities, fieldtrips, and presentations give participants a much-needed "sense of place", about their local area that can be incorporated into their classroom teachings. Participants are given information and curriculum materials that meets classroom, district, and State Learning Standard needs. We are confident that with our assistance, they can pass on this knowledge to their students.
EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES OF THE INSTITUTE
Attendees of the WFIT can expect to participate in a wide variety of hand-on activities. These range from stream studies to building three-dimensional watershed models to tree identification and ecology. Attendees will perform selected activities from various curricula guides.
Site visits are another component of the WFIT. Participants will tour a Model Forest, a NYC reservoir, a wastewater treatment plant, a riparian planting/restoration site, and even a farm where best management practices are being utilized to ensure water quality protection.
Participants can also expect to hear guest experts presenting on topics such as the history of the New York City Water Supply System, Catskill region geology, the 1997 Memorandum of Agreement, and Catskill region history and folklore.