Press Releases

Jamboree to Celebrate Chestnut Partnership

Release Date: 4/22/2010 11:31:31 AM

An American Chestnut Jamboree will be held on Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. at the Carroll County Outdoor School at the Hashawha Environmental Center, located at 300 John Owings Road in Westminster.
     
Over the past ten years, the Carroll County Public School System has partnered with The American Chestnut Foundation to promote and participate in the establishment of numerous Chestnut tree orchards around the county. To date, sixteen school orchards have been launched along with the supporting science curriculum for grades 6 -12.
 
As part of the Jamboree, there will be a celebration of the next phase of this partnership which will include the planting of a new blight resistant species of American Chestnut tree in the Hashawha Environmental Center’s orchard. The celebration will also recognize the establishment of 14 new school orchards.
     
Over 100 years ago, a fungus was accidentally introduced into the United States and resulted in the death of more than 4 billion Chestnut trees. Scientists have tried in vain for the past century to defeat the fungus and bring back the native tree to the forests. As a result of intensive backcrossing strategies, after six generations, scientists believe a solution may be at hand.
     
During the last decade, Carroll County has developed a unique STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum around restoring the Chestnut. Approximately 18,000 Carroll County students have been involved in the planting and management of the experimental Chestnut orchards at Hashawha Environmental Center.
     
Sixth and seventh grade students measure tree growth, calculate carbon storage, and identify trees. Upper grades study forest ecology, perform DNA experiments, and study the genetics of backcrossing Chinese Chestnut hybrids to surviving native Chestnuts, aiming for a tree that incorporates the desirable characteristics of the native with just enough Chinese to resist blight. Advanced Placement students analyze data collected by Penn State University scientists from other experimental Chestnut orchards across the eastern United States.
     
According to Supervisor of Science Brad Yohe, “It generates such excitement. What’s more American than a chance to restore this superb native tree that was a cornerstone of the forest economy and ecology?”

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