The Hippo


Jun 4, 2020








Art and history hikes

Where: 39 Roulston Road, Windham
When: Saturday, Nov. 18, check-in at 9:30 a.m., hikes start at 10 a.m.
Cost: Free
Visit: or call 890-1222

Art and history hikes
Hands-on learning at Quarrybrook community event

By Ethan Hogan

 Quarrybrook Experiential Education Center is hosting a free community hiking event on Saturday, Nov. 18, at its 245-acre outdoor learning center, where you can choose between four hikes that explore art, history and nature.

The two all-ages hikes will teach guests about the history of the property’s granite quarry or about natural sculpture art. There’s a separate hike for kids under 5 and one is just for adults, with the distances and information tailored to the age groups. All of the hikes leave at 10 a.m. 
Participants who go on the art hike will learn about environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy, a British sculptor who uses only materials he finds outside to build his sculptures and will photograph his work to preserve it since much of it can only stay intact for a few minutes, hours or days, according to Quarrybrook educator Katherine Doyle.
Doyle said the art hike will have participants creating their own natural sculptures after getting inspiration from Goldsworthy’s art. The group will hike to a site to build their own pieces of environmental art using natural materials found in the forest.
“It’s about creating your own environmental sculpture while you’re out on the trail. It’s a great opportunity to create art in the natural environment,” said the center’s executive director, Marcy Yeager.
On the history hike, guests will learn about the history of the original, on-site granite quarry that once supplied the area with the state’s official rock. The granite was used for industrial structures like the 1848 stone arch bridge that is also part of the Quarrybrook property, and will be an educational stop on Saturday’s hike, according to Yeager.
The history tour will be explorative and informative. Yeager said learning through hands-on activities in nature can help most learners stay engaged. 
“The broad majority of learners respond well to actively doing what they’re learning,” said Yeager.
There will be a free-form hike for adults where participants can explore the trails themselves and experience the area on their own. Yeager said the unstructured hike will be educational because hikers see a variety of micro-ecosystems, even on a short journey.
“One of the things that I love about Quarrybrook is that you are going to go through multiple micro-ecosystems during a hike,” said Yeager.
Beaver dams, marshes, blueberry trails and multiple vernal pools in the quarries can be seen within a short distance of each other. Yeager said this large variance in micro-ecosystems is caused in part by the dynamic landscapes created by glacial activity thousands of years ago. 
“You will see in a very short distance how topography affects an ecosystem,” she said.
Having taught all over the world, Yeager has come to appreciate New England’s natural quirks. She said the distinct characteristic that stands out to her is the soil in New England, which she said is better than in most other areas.
“We have perfect soil, meaning it’s got all of the right pieces … so we have really amazing plants. We couldn’t have it anywhere else; we have the perfect recipe for our ecosystem,” said Yeager.
The themed hikes were created by the educators at the center and represent the style of learning that the organization practices. 
“This is their opportunity to share some of their favorite pieces of curriculum at Quarrybrook, ” said Yeager.
There is a hike for kids 5 years old and younger for families that want to get outdoors but won’t be able to stay focused on one longer lesson. 
Quarrybrook typically focuses on teaching kindergarten through sixth-grade students classroom lessons using hands-on, inquiry-based learning experiences in nature, Yeager said. Events like these allow that kind of teaching to extend to a larger community. 
“We choose to do the bulk of our lessons outside because we are lucky to have these beautiful 245 acres. We believe that the simple act of learning about nature fosters better global citizens because you have first hand contact with the basics of how the world works,” said Yeager. 

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