Last week UVLT staff met with Dartmouth’s Ashley Doolittle to discuss our experiences and make plans for another year of co-joining academic curricula and land conservation. Doolittle is Associate Director for Academic and Service Engagement with the Dartmouth Center for Service. She helped found the Social Impact Practicum (SIP) program, which last year brought multiple students into UVLT’s work through partnerships with four different academic courses.
Doolittle describes social impact practicums as “projects connecting community-defined needs with experiential learning in the classroom.” For instance, last year during winter term, Professor Kim Rogers’ Sociology Research Methods course had students design a research plan for UVLT to efficiently evaluate social media outreach. Students in Professor Luke Chang’s”Social and Affective Motivations in Decision-Making,” a psychology course, looked at UVLT’s conservation easement signs to tell us how they could be improved based on the research about how people react to signs. The outcome of this course was a paper titled “Informing Best Practices in Environmental Conservation Signage.”
Professor Terry Osborne has teamed up with UVLT for several years. Students in “Nature Writers,” a fall term class, create land-based essays. UVLT has brought students to a variety of conserved properties so that those students could spend time on the land and write from their experiences. Last year students visited Rix Ledges in Lebanon, Mountain View Farm in Orford, and Zebedee Wetland in Thetford.
We asked Johnny Sanchez, a Senior in Osborne’s class, to narrate his essay called “Rix Ledges: Where Edges Meet” and we paired his recording with photos from summer intern Robin Kilfeather-Mackey’s Rix Ledges Natural Resource Inventory to create a short movie.
In Ethnographic Film, a winter course with Professor Jeffrey Ruoff, two groups of students created videos about UVLT Conservation Areas – Brookmead Conservation Area and Lyme Hill Conservation Area.
Partnerships with Dartmouth faculty and students have created diverse products and experiences for all involved. Student research sometimes is able to take on tasks and bring perspective beyond the capacity of our existing staff. Faculty shape and share critical thinking. We enjoy introducing students to the places we love and exploring inside and outside of Dartmouth’s walls. We look forward to partnering with more Dartmouth College students and faculty in the coming year and beyond.