Once again all three FIT’s went well and each group had a unique blend of teachers from many different backgrounds and parts of California. By the end of the week the groups have bonded and are like one big family sharing the great FIT experience. An overall theme and topic of discussion at all FIT’s was fire ecology and trying to prevent wild fire through proper forest management. There were only three this year because unfortunately the Plumas FIT was cancelled due to low enrollment.
Each FIT has the same basic script but the stage changes according to local resources and the cast and crew differ from place to place. The script can be interpreted a little different in each location but the story line and quality of production is the same.
The first two sessions have the same core Educational Team consisting of Nancy Jones (K-3rd grades), Dennis Mitchell (4 – 6th) and Brian Brown (7- 12th). The Education Team at HSU has some staff changes this year. Joan Kienzle is retiring from FIT as 4 – 6th group leader and lead teacher. She over lapped with Doug O’Brien, who will be lead lead teacher next year; Doug still did the K-3rd grades this year. Bill Anderson retired and was replaced by Jill Hardy in the 7- 12th group and next year there will be additional changes on who does the 4 – 6th group. These dedicated top notch staff members provide lesson plans and resource materials appropriate for each age group. Tom Catchpole is on the staff of all the FIT’s. The teachers are asked to select a related topic and write a unit to be used back in their classroom; if this is accomplished with in a certain time frame they are awarded a stipend.
Well known curriculum such as Project Learning Tree, Talk About Trees, Project Wild, Project Wet, along with treecookie and wood products kits, a cone collection and other useful plans are provided to the teachers.
The first FIT this year was the Tuolumne FIT at the Sonora Outdoor School (SOS) near Sonora, CA started on June 19 to 25, 2016. The coordination team includes Daniel Webster, Glenn Gottschall and Mike Olenchalk who put together a great program in the Sierra Nevada Ponderosa Pine to Mixed Conifer Forest that surrounds the camp.
Then we moved on to the Shasta FIT at Camp McCumber at the YMCA Camp on Lake McCumber near Lassen Park from June 26 to July 2, 2016. Here Director, Ryan DeSantis, UC Cooperative Extension put together another great FIT agenda located in the mixed conifer forest in the Southern Cascade Mountain range. It was Ryan’s last FIT since he has a new job in Wyoming.
After a week to restock supplies I was off to The Humboldt FIT which was the last of the season starting on July 10 to 16, 2016 directed by Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension. Centered on the HSU campus in Creek Side Lounge the teachers get to see and learn about Coast Redwood Forest type.
I feel that working with FIT is the best use of my time I can think of, especially when often teachers comment to me that the week at FIT has been the best training or workshop they have ever attended.
Thomas W. Catchpole, retired USFS Forester.