Deep in the woods near the Mink Brook, Advanced Placement environmental science students from Hanover High School are collecting data on the forest.
"We are looking at the species that are currently growing here and how many of them there are," said Owen Brennick, a junior.
That includes the canopy above, and the saplings and seedlings that are just starting out. The data are crunched and, ultimately, a long-term prediction will be made about what the trees will look like a century from now.
"I think you can really see what is happening instead of just looking at pictures or PowerPoints. You actually get to experience it," said Eileen Daley, a senior.
Field studies are routine for this class, bringing the classroom to subjects they are examining.
"We just spent a day out at the Ely copper mine in West Fairlee, Vermont, looking at acid mine drainage. That is our first field site in the fall. We come here as our second site and then we do two other field studies before snow flies," teacher Jeannie Kornfeld said.
The students are also studying an invasive species named the Glossy Buckthorn to find out the long-term impact that will have on the forest as well.
"It would also have other effects on the repairing zone next to the stream and the ecosystem in the stream, as well," Brennick said.
And teachers say the threat posed by invasive species is amplified when students see the results firsthand.
"When they are gathering their own data and they see firsthand the invasive species on the forest floor there and what it looks like here; it has a whole different impact," Kornfeld said.
And in 100 years this forest will look a whole lot different, as well.
"I mean, we obviously won't be alive for that long, but it is great to see as it changes," Brennick said.
Giving meaning to the expression "seeing the forest for the trees."
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