2018 Annual Report – Education

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2018 was a busy year for ADK’s Education Department. In total, ADK’s Education team (4 full-time staff, 1 seasonal, and 5 interns) had contact with over 14,500 people, which included trainings, guided hikes, naturalist walks, conversations on Mt. Jo, lectures, programs, and workshops.

Education Department Staff:

Julia Goren (Education Director), Seth Jones (Education Programs Manager), Tom Manitta (Outreach Coordinator), Tyler Socash (Outdoor Skills Coordinator), and Seasonal Staff: Danna Libbey, Maggie Newell, Thomas Collins, Elsie Platzer, Benjamin Schnier, Eve Whalen, Olivia Gundrum and Colleen Corrigan.

Interpretive Programs:

  • Outreach Intern Danna Libbey organized a successful Winter Lecture Series and Winter Naturalist Programs, which were offered to chapters and groups staying at the Adirondak Loj. Danna had 182 participants in these programs.
  • During the winter, Education staff did presentations for chapter monthly meetings: Outdoor Skills Coordinator Tyler Socash presented to the Iroquois Chapter and Glens Falls-Saratoga Chapter, while Outreach Coordinator Tom Manitta has presented to the Algonquin Chapter.
  • Education Director Julia Goren and Education Programs Manager Seth Jones participated in the second Adirondack Backcountry Social Media Summit in January.
  • Julia and Seth both participated in NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Focus Group meetings covering various issues related to high use in the High Peaks. They will both remain involved in the continuing discussions related to these topics.
  • Danna offered 3 Winter Community Hikes at Heaven Hill Trails with a total of 6 participants. Due to low participation the future of this program is being evaluated.
  • During the winter, we hosted three lecturers (Annie and Johnny Rosen, The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, and Danna) and conducted 4 naturalist programs for a total of 205 visitors.
  • Naturalists Maggie, Tom, Eve, Elsie, and Ben arrived on May 20. Their first weeks were spent in a Certified Interpretive Guide training (conducted by Julia with participation from The Wild Center, Adirondack Museum, the Paul Smith’s VIC, and Nature up North), Wilderness First Aid, Leave No Trace training and various other naturalist training’s conducted by Tom and Julia. The naturalists did an outstanding job facilitating guided hikes up Mt. Jo, guided nature walks twice a day, hosting on Mt. Jo, and staffing the Nature Museum seven days a week. They also provided Wednesday evening campfire programs, Friday night hikes, Friday evening talks at JBL, Saturday lectures at JBL and Heart Lake, and Sunday morning kid’s programming.
  • The Naturalists put together a fabulous new exhibit at ADK’s Nature Museum, looking at the various voices telling stories about Heart Lake and the Adirondacks.
  • Naturalists interacted with over 13,381 visitors during July and August.
  • The Naturalists also did programming for St. Ignatius School and Camp Holy Child, based in the Bronx. Approximately 75 fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders participated in Naturalist Walks, and Campfire Programs, both at the Loj and at their property.
  • The Saturday Evening Lecture series at the amphitheater and Johns Brook Lodge had great participation this summer with exciting programs from music to Adirondack history. Over 365 people attended a program at Heart Lake or JBL.
  • Seth assisted in the development of a new volunteer program for ADK, ADK’s Stewardship Ambassador Program. This is a volunteer program that promotes responsible recreation and stewardship on social media. Six ambassadors were selected and the program took place during the summer.
  • A group of 27 visiting students and parents from China participated in a paddling workshop and naturalist walk around Heart Lake this summer, in partnership with The Wild Center and Dragon Expeditions.
  • Outdoor Skills Coordinator Tyler Socash did presentations for participants from the Laurentian Chapter and the Onondaga Chapter.
  • During the Fall, Education Programs Manager Seth Jones did programs for students from Paul Smiths College.

School and Community Outreach:

  • Ten schools participated in the 2017-2018 Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program, which included 397 participating students. This year’s participating schools included Oak Street Elementary, Momot Elementary, Elizabethtown, Keene Central, Keeseville, St. Regis Falls, St. Bernard’s, Bloomingdale Elementary, Petrova Elementary and Lake Placid Elementary.
  • The winter portion of the 2017-2018 Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program went very well. We had many days of deep powder. One snowstorm prevented a class from not being able to participate in the winter field visit. A total of 389 students from 10 schools participated.
  • In the spring, the 2017-2018 Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program wrapped up in June, with 397 students coming out to Heart Lake. The Naturalist Interns helped out tremendously with some of the larger groups (Oak Street, Saranac Lake, Keeseville).
  • In the spring, Julia, Seth, Tom, Danna and Maggie led 60 first graders from Keeseville Elementary School on hikes at Heart Lake.
  • In the spring, Tom, Danna, Tyler, Julia and Kayla led 55 kindergarten students from Petrova Elementary School on hikes around Heart Lake
  • Seth conducted Leave No Trace training for approximately 30 DEC Assistant Forest Rangers, Caretakers and Student Conservation Association Backcountry Stewards
  • Julia participated in Saranac Lake’s Earth Day celebration, tabling about ADK.
  • We held our fourth annual Teacher Kickoff Meeting in August. Teachers from different schools got together and spoke about how they incorporate the program into their curricula. It also provided Outreach Coordinator, Tom Manitta and Julia a valuable opportunity to hear from the teachers about the strengths of the program and potential areas to expand or improve the program.
  • In September, Tom and Community Outreach Intern Colleen Corrigan started our 2018-2019 Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program by visiting our twelve (!) participating schools: Saranac Lake, Bloomingdale, Lake Placid, Keene, Elizabethtown, Momot, Oak Street, Keeseville, St. Bernard’s, St. Regis Falls, Long Lake and Schroon Lake (new) in their classrooms during the first weeks of the school year.
  • In September and October 408 fourth graders came out to the Heart Lake Program Center to hike Mt. Jo. This year, tough weather conditions resulted in many programs getting rescheduled to the school’s rain date and pushing programs into late October. We finished this fall’s hikes in the snow.
  • In November, Tom did a presentation for an Environmental Education class at Skidmore College about the Three Seasons Program.

Skills Workshops:

  • As use in the High Peaks continues to rise, we continue to see increased demand for all of our programming. We added new courses during the spring/summer, including Fly Fishing 101, additional Map and Compass courses, and a Leave No Trace Trainer Course in partnership with the Paul Smith’s VIC. In addition to the talent on staff with Education Programs Manager Seth Jones, Outdoor Skills Coordinator Tyler Socash, Tom, and Julia, we have also started contracting a guide for additional private guided trips. We are simply unable to keep up with demand otherwise.
  • During the winter, we ran 22 workshops and guided hikes, with a total of 208 participants. In January we offered a new workshop, the Winter 46, to teach responsible recreation to new winter hikers.

    Photo by Melissa Boetig

  • We had 39 participants take part in one of our six yurt-based programs this winter: 19 college students, 10 young members, and 10 workshop participants. Ironically, several of our programs had to cancel due to heavy snows and unsafe roads.
  • Julia and Tyler attended the annual Leave No Trace Master Educator provider meetings in Boulder, CO.
  • Julia, Seth, and Kayla taught a custom Leave No Trace Master Educator course for DEC employees, ADK staff, and staff from Ausable Chasm. The course took place the first week of April.
  • In the Spring, Tom, Tyler, Julia, and Seth ran the following programs: Map and Compass (3), Wilderness First Aid (2 public offerings and 1 for staff), Outdoor Leadership 101, Backcountry Cooking, Fly Fishing 101 (new), and 1 private guided hike with a total of 112 participants.
  • Olivia Gundrum joined us for her first season as Wilderness Trip Leader. She did a great job leading day hikes and backpacking trips in the High Peaks.
  • Tyler ran a Leave No Trace awareness workshop for SUNY ESF’s Conservation Biology Club
  • Tyler and High Peaks Information Center Manager Bobby ran a Leave No Trace trainer for Summit Stewards and Supervised Volunteer Trail Crew leaders; Summit Steward Coordinator Kayla White and Summit Steward Matt Baer led a simultaneous trainer course for Naturalists and HPIC staff.
  • The summer was tremendously successful for our workshops, guided hikes and backpacking trips. We ran a total of 50 guided programs with 315 participants, continuing to build on last summer’s success.
  • Demand for privately guided programs has been very high; we’ve run 11 privately guided trips and custom skills programs. Trips have been led by Tyler, Seth, Julia, Tom, and contract guide Elie Rabinowitz.
  • Teen Programs were a big success this summer! All three programs (Advanced Teen Backpacking, Aquatic Stewardship, and JBL Adventure) ran for a total of 13 participants.
  • We ran custom Leave No Trace Trainer courses for Frost Valley YMCA for a total of 14 participants, mostly teens.
  • Seth conducted American Canoe Association Flatwater Canoe & Kayak Safety & Rescue workshop
  • Two weeklong Road Scholar: Multisport programs and Three weeklong Road Scholar: Hiking programs were run by Tyler, Tom, Julia, and Seth with a total of 48
  • Road Scholar International has requested that ADK add two more programs to next year’s catalogue, to keep up with demand.
  • This was a successful summer for Leave No Trace programs; we ran two Leave No Trace Trainer courses for staff. We also did training for the DEC Backcountry Stewards. Julia and VIC Manager Andy Testo ran a Trainer course in July and trained 9 participants, and Tyler and staff from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics ran a Master Educator course in August with 8 participants. Julia and Summit Steward Coordinator Kayla White ran a Leave No Trace Master Educator in September with 7 participants.
  • In total, we have directly reached over 890 people with Leave No Trace training and messaging.
  • In August, we were audited by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics for providing Master Educator level courses. Tyler and ADK’s program facilitation received high reviews.
  • In early September, Seth offered 4 free skills workshops at REI in Rochester, NY. He offered two Outdoor Leadership 101 courses and two Leave No Trace Awareness Workshops.
  • For the third year in a row, in October we partnered with College Outside, an organization based in Boulder, CO whose mission is to bridge the gap between college students and the outdoor industry, to offer Collegiate Outdoor Leadership Summit. The weekend was a huge success, with 75 students from 16 different colleges participating in a weekend of fun, adventure and networking. Seth, Tyler, Tom and Liv helped lead trips and skills workshops.


In the fall, ADK volunteers, maintenance and education staff worked together to install ADK’s Education Yurts; one 30-foot diameter classroom yurt and two 20-foot diameter sleeping yurts. These yurts will be used for skills workshops, Leave No Trace courses and school outreach programs.

Leadership Change:

One of the biggest changes in the department in 2018 was the departure of Education Director Julia Goren in October. She started working at ADK in 2004 as a summer naturalist intern.  In 2006 she became a High Peaks Summit Steward and took over managing the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program in 2008. Julia transformed the Summit Stewardship Program into one of the most highly respected alpine stewardship programs in the Northeast. She worked to create a sustainable source of funding while every year writing grants to keep the program afloat, gave her time and body to the mountains during the stewarding season, created an extensive training regimen for stewards and expanded the research conducted in NY’s alpine zone. Julia has also been ADK’s Education Director for the past three years, setting ADK’s educational programs to a higher standard. Julia took a position with the Adirondack Council and will continue working on issues pertaining to the Adirondack Park.

In December Seth Jones was promoted to Education Director. Seth has worked for ADK since 2008 first as a High Peaks Summit Steward then as the Johns Brook Lodge coordinator.  He has been a part of the education team since 2012 where he focused on building and growing ADK’s high school and college student programs. Seth has also been an integral part of ADK’s communication team by developing ADK’s social media presence, managing blog content and by telling stories for the organization through his photography and videography. Jones holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Conservation Biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.  He is also on the board of the Waterman Fund, an organization dedicated to fostering the spirit of wildness and conserving the alpine areas of Northeastern North America.  Seth lives in Bloomingdale, NY.