Fired Up about Camp

Did you know there’s a camp where teens get to fight fire? Not a scary western wildfire, but a well-behaved one that actually improves the environment?

Last summer, a group of teenagers at Camp Woods & Wildlife learned firsthand how to manage a prescribed fire. These intrepid campers donned fire-retardant gear and set about preparing for a small understory burn.

First, they raked a fire line down to bare soil to keep the fire contained. Then, under the watchful eyes of Virginia Department of Forestry personnel, they used a drip torch to light the forest duff. The June humidity kept the fire low, but campers were prepared with backpack tanks in case of any flare-ups.

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The campers learned that managed fire cuts down the amount of dry “fuel” on the forest floor, thus reducing the chances of an uncontrolled wildfire later. Many mature trees are tolerant of low-intensity prescribed fire, and they benefit from reduced competition when the fire kills smaller woody vegetation. Fire can even improve wildlife habitat by creating growing conditions for plants that provide food and cover.

Teens who want to experience real-world environmental practices like prescribed fire are invited to attend this year’s Camp Woods & Wildlife, scheduled for June 22-27, 2020 at Holiday Lake 4-H Center. The camp is open to any Virginia resident aged 13-16 with an interest in natural resources who has not attended before. Any non-related adult can nominate a camper.

Check out www.dof.virginia.gov/forestry/camp for more Information.

Field Notes: VDOF Supports Dominion Energy’s Project Plant It!

by Sara Hunt, Project Plant It!

Page Hutchinson, the VDOF’s forest education specialist, shared her knowledge of trees with students who were enrolled in Dominion Energy’s Project Plant It! program. During the month of April, she visited Meriwether Lewis Elementary in Albemarle County and Thomas Jefferson Elementary in Louisa County.

Her interactive presentations helped the students understand more about the products that come from trees and also about the important role that trees play in the ecosystem. Students especially enjoyed voting thumbs up or thumbs down on whether an item came from a tree or not. Also, they loved the “Tree Factory” activity where they acted out all the different parts of a tree to learn how complex trees really are. As you can tell from the photos, Page generated a lot of energy and excitement about trees for these lucky students.

The media team for Albemarle County Public Schools created a cool video featuring Page: https://youtu.be/bYoo93OZhb8

Project Plant It! was developed in 2007 by Dominion Energy to educate children about the benefits of trees and to improve the environment by planting trees. Each participating student received a redbud tree seedling to plant for Arbor Day. Dominion Energy partners with the Virginia Department of Forestry to enhance learning through these fun forester presentations to selected schools. For more information, visit projectplantit.com.

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Page Hutchinson at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.
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Page Hutchinson at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School