2011 SiteSection Trial Program, Summary

Blue Ridge Discovery Center
Sullivan Swamp, Quebec Branch Headwaters Bog

Imagine…students and naturalists coming together to explore some of the rarest and most amazing habitats on the planet, coming face to face with rare and unique species, documenting these globally rare habitats, blending exploration, science and art in collaborative hands-on learning environments , creating colorful resources that may be enjoyed by the public at large for generations to come.
I had the good fortune of field testing the concept. BRDC took the trial program to Sullivan Swamp at Grayson Highlands State Park to get people involved in exploring, documenting and sharing a rare and amazing Blue Ridge ecosystem. We tested a wholistic approach that bridged science and art and included the subject areas of biology, geology, soils and human culture. We consulted with experts in various specialized fields. We used a respectful “hands-on” approach to inquiry, one that allowed participants to explore at will within a specific ecosystem and produce meaningful data that could be shared.
One of our goals was to begin creating program protocols that would minimize the impact that the survey teams would have on the site while, at the same time, allow participants to fully engage the species within it. We conducted surveys on three different occasions and through trial and error, we found that balance. With a low impact hands-on approach, a research and collection permit from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and with strict journaling, sampling and photographic protocol, participants began exploring and documenting this amazing Blue Ridge habitat. We tested our methods, made improvements along the way, and our notes and photographs began to formulate a vibrant and breathing portrait of a Southern Appalachian Shrub Bog.

Below you will find links to excerpts from the field journal kept during the 2011 SiteSection trial program.  I’ve also included links to a gallery of photographs and the list of species observed in 2011.