DATE: June 2002
SUBJECT: The VanFossens Help Teachers Learn about Hares
Arkansas – Teaching isn’t limited to the classroom anymore. Some schools in the United States recognize this and work hard to provide their teachers with opportunities to explore the world outside the classroom so they can return to their students wiser, and more enthused, about the subjects they present. This “hands-on” approach makes the classroom come alive as teachers share their experiences, photographs, videos, and souvenirs from their adventures with the students. Part of their “Arkansas Frameworks” educational program, teachers explore an area of the United States for a few weeks while learning about it from every aspect.
Preparing the itinerary and program for this year’s ten-day “Out West Field Study” program on the study of the Southern Rocky Mountains, Jo Reynolds of Union High School, searched the internet for online resources to prepare the teachers for the trip. Popular nature photographers, Brent and Lorelle VanFossen, host one of the largest personal web sites on the Internet, including a special section on exploring natural areas and wildlife called “Natural Wanderings”. Their informative article on snowshoe hares caught the eye of Ms. Reynolds, who requested use of some of their information. The snowshoe hare is one of the typical wildlife specimens found in the Four Corners area of the Southern Rocky Mountains.
Using the information from the VanFossen’s online article, Ms. Reynolds set up a study program on the snowshoe hare to help the participants learn more about it by researching and studying its habitat, characteristics, and natural history.
“We are delighted to become a resource for schools and students,” says Brent VanFossen. “The purpose behind our web site is to inform and educate people about the value of nature, from all aspects. The more children learn about nature, the more inclined they are to preserve it in the future.”
His wife, Lorelle, the creative mind behind their web site, adds, “This is the magic of the Internet. We live on the road, sharing our adventures and articles with people through our web site, hoping someone is getting some benefit out of it. Then someone living in Arkansas, planning a study trip to the Southwestern United States, finds our article on the Internet, while we are currently living in Tel Aviv, Israel. It just goes to prove that the world really is just a finger’s click away.”
The Southern Rockies of the United States offers excellent opportunities to study the fascinating geology and diverse ecosystems found in the area. Their field trip explored national parks and monuments such as Canyon de Chelly, Goosenecks, Canyonlands, Colorado Monument, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and includes the museums of Silverton, Durango, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe, providing teachers with a busy as well as well rounded exposure to the area, its culture, history, and nature.
The program is produced by the Southern Arkansas University and the South Central Service Cooperative, and students are accompanied by experts in the fields of geology, biology, ornithology, social studies, forestry and entomology. The goal of the program is to help teachers personally observe the history and nature of the area and apply these field study techniques in a classroom environment.
For more information on who the VanFossens are and what are they doing as they take their camera on the road, visit their Doing Zone.