Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 50-3
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


LUTZ, Tim and SROGI, LeeAnn, Department of Earth & Space Sciences, West Chester University, 720 S Church St, West Chester, PA 19383

Field experiences that integrate natural and human systems provide new contexts to engage participants in rediscovering landscapes. A key to success is to conceptualize, prepare, and advertise the experience in broad terms (i.e., “nature walk”) to attract a variety of participants. Collaborating with local governments and organizations can help to gain access to sites, provide additional information, and contribute personnel to help with logistics and to monitor safety.

We describe two recent field experiences as examples. East Bradford Twp., Chester County, PA contacted one of us (Lutz) to lead a “naturalist walk” at one of their township properties, the Harmony Hill Nature Area (HHNA). The HHNA includes wooded hills of metamorphic rocks, streams, including access to the East Branch of Brandywine Creek, and remains of human habitation and horticulture. Natural Lands, a regional land conservancy, contacted Srogi to lead a geology walk at their Fulshaw Craeg preserve (FCP) in Montgomery County, PA. The FCP includes steep, craggy, wooded hills with prominent diabase boulders, a stream, meadows with rare native plants, and remains of human habitation, agriculture, and mining. In actuality, both of us contributed to both walks and pooled our knowledge of geology, ecology, and history to guide 20-30 participants, ranging in age from teens to seventies, on 90-minute walks.

The variety of human and natural elements facilitated interdisciplinary learning and provided opportunities to talk about timescales from seconds to eons and spatial scales from microns to square miles. Both trips emphasized the dynamic processes that interconnect people, rocks, soils, water, plants, animals, climate, and atmosphere. We encouraged participants to think of the geologic origins of the landscape, changes in the present day, and the inevitability of change in the future. We found that participants contributed knowledge and understandings of aspects of the landscape that enriched the experience. One of the challenges for “experts” leading a walk is to find ways to validate and integrate such information into the flow of a planned program in real time. A benefit is that the field experience then promotes a community of learners who become aware of and can curate their own knowledge.

  • 50-3 Lutz Srogi Rambles final.pdf (9.2 MB)