Byron “Butch” Mezick
B-CC IWLA Conservation Committee
Four B-CC IWLA members Frank Parker, Mark Gochnour, Greg Gochnour, and Butch Mezick hosted 80 Poolesville Global Ecology students on an “Interpretive Walk in the Woods” hike. A morning tour and an afternoon tour, consisting of 20 students each, were presented starting Wednesday morning and ending Thursday afternoon.
The students started their walk by hiking up a steep hill stopping just below the hill’s crest where we discussed soil erosion and the formation and composition of that precious natural resource “Topsoil.” Our next stop was a pile of trash where we discussed the incredible longevity of different types of trash; a Styrofoam bait container lasts one million years before it decomposes.
Our guests were then taught to identify three different oak trees, red, white and chestnut by their bark and leaves. Buck rubs and buck scrapes were discovered and discussed as the students progressed on the walk.
A presentation of zoning laws, development in general, and the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve was offered as the students stood in an obsolete power line right of way clearing showcasing the high rise developments on the other side of the Potomac River in the state of Virginia contrasting the undeveloped wood lands they were hiking.
A short description of the components of habitat required by all animals was explained, as was the devastating impact of human development on all other plants and animals in the natural world. The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, better known at the Pittman-Robertson Act, was highlighted with its contribution to date of 13 billion dollars to wildlife and wildlife habitat since its inception in 1937.
Full-size turkey decoys were observed, and the incredible eyesight and hearing of turkeys were discussed followed by a demonstration of turkey box, slate, and mouth calls. Previously planted items such as a deer skull complete with antlers, a snakeskin, turkey feathers, and animal bones with teeth marks left by animals in the pursuit of calcium were discovered by our students as they became “seers” of the natural world.
The incredible natural process of photosynthesis explaining how a tree was produced from carbon dioxide and water under the influence of the sun’s energy was explained including a bit of information on why a leaf is green.
We proceeded to the exam area, yes, this interpretive walk in the woods includes an exam where the students worked individually during a period of silence in an area that is rich in examples of topics previously discussed and where the tour guides have planted items of interest.
Each student was given an opportunity to explain to the others what they found and to share some information about their discovery. A short stop by our abandoned mine was followed by a brisk walk as we completed the hike and the students boarded the bus waiting at our chapter house to return them to Poolesville High School. With programs such as the “Interpretive Walk in the Woods,” the B-CC IWLA will provide conservation education to the next generation of conservationists.