Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 13: EDUCATION


Forest and Limestone Creek at PMSS. (Photo: hhw)  [P1130799.jpg]


TAGS: environmental education, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Harlan County Kentucky, education, Mary Rogers, Peter Westover, Nat Kuykendall, civic responsibility, weaving, hiking, stream ecology, curriculum, standard course of study, public schools, sustainable agriculture


Environmental Education (EE) programming at Pine Mountain began with the founding of the School. While not defined in the curriculum of the School, environmental education was introduced at every opportunity into the educational program. The discovery of the Native American dwelling and burial site at Indian Cliff, the discussion of the ancestral heritage of students from the region, landscaping and farming as part of the vocational training experience of students, and other related environmental experiences, were constant reminders to staff and students of their beautiful and fragile shared environment. Pine Mountain has always defined environmentalism as one of its educational missions. There is consistency in the efforts through the years to raise the environmental awareness of all who work and attend Pine Mountain Settlement School’s programs.

Perhaps no one was as fully committed to the idea of complete immersion in the environmental education opportunities at the School as was Mary Rogers. The idea that environmental education was fundamental to civic responsibility began with the founders and was strengthened by various staff who foregrounded environmental education in multiple educational adventures. Attention to the environment has always been a part of the ethos of the School from its beginning.

The Formal EE Program

While the fundamental ideas surrounding environmental education have always been part of the School, the foundation of a formal Environmental Education Program, conceived and promoted as part of the School mission, did not occur until the early 1970s. From that early beginning, the School began to cast a wide net for incorporating environmental awareness into the regional schools and became a leader in the environmental education movement.

Following the formal institution of the Environmental Education Program in 1972 at Pine Mountain Settlement School, EE programs soon reached out to over 3,000 children and adults each year through a series of on-site and residential programs for schools and in adult workshops that focused on a planned environmental education program. 

In the beginning, the Pine Mountain program sought to educate natural resource stewards of the future in the young students as well as reach out to adults with a series of workshops and retreats that focused on the rich ecology of the School and its surrounding setting. The ideas put forward by the School were designed to bring children and adults to Pine Mountain where they would experience an introduction to good environmental stewardship through actual hands-on exercises. Whether walking a trail or engaging hiking expeditions, an afternoon of hands-on stream ecology, or a classroom talk on Native Americans, the environmental education staff opened the way for schools to incorporate the Kentucky standard course of study with extended hands-on experiences. It was a model that schools throughout Kentucky soon emulated and wished to incorporate.

With the passage of time and the multiple intervening administrations, environmental education at the School has evolved and changed and waxed and waned. Yet, it has rarely strayed too far from the original educational conception begun by Mary Rogers, Peter Westover, and other early environmental education designers and instructors.

The Green Book

The Green Book, Teaching Ecological Concepts Outdoors, provided lesson plans and a rationale for many of the activities associated with the early environmental education programs. This guiding document has been re-written numerous time and is still evolving as it keeps pace with the changes in the Standard Course of Study required in the public schools and with contemporary issues related to the environment.

The program has also expanded its base to include craft and creativity, with hands-on sessions in the weaving room, ceramics studio, woodwork shop, and other art and craft engagements. The expansion of workshops for adults took some of the early environmental education programs and expanded them into multiple hands-on experiences with the environment as well as with specific regional interests such as heritage seeds. medicinal plants, sustainable agriculture, weaving, blacksmithing, architectural restoration, canning, photography, and a myriad of other interests geared for both adults and children.

The Green Book (1972) continues to provide one of the best descriptions of the ongoing concept of environmental education at Pine Mountain:

Environmental education has come to mean many different things. Sometimes, unfortunately, it has involved a separation of two kinds of learning: the learning of awareness and appreciation through the use of the senses; the learning of knowledge — specific truths — through experimentation.

We hope through this guide to help bring the two areas together and to stimulate the learning of additional skills such as that of effective communication. Through ecological concepts, one realizes that “awareness” is necessary not only for aesthetic appreciation but also for the understanding of concrete situations.

In THE GREEN BOOK, we emphasize the importance of using concepts or frameworks, to understand the ways that plants, animals, water, soil, air, and people fit together. Each natural system “ecosystem” may be different, but most have underlying similarities. Unless we have a frame of reference for seeing those similarities, and unless we can see, describe, and differentiate among members of each ecosystem, (which plants, what kind of rock material, how big an animal population), we cannot understand how each affects the others.

The Green Book, 1972.

The campus of Pine Mountain Settlement is a natural environment. As a back-drop, the campus could not be more exquisite and diverse. See Pine Mountain Settlement School Events for a listing of current programming.

The following pages provide a broad picture of the history of Environmental Education at the School as well as an opportunity for visitors to enrich their visits through their own interests.

Back To: ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION Guide 1972 – present

See Also:

EE Mary Rogers EE Planning 1972 forward and Program Notes 
EEBrochure 1
EE Brochure 2
EE The Green Book 1974 (Early Manual for EE Program)
EE Indians and Settlers 029 V Photographs 

EE Lesson Plans and Supplementary Information 1973-1995
EE Mary Rogers EE Planning 1972 forward and Program Notes 
EE Pine Mountain Bird CheckList
EE Plans and Supplementary Information 1973-1995
EE Student Groups at PMSS
EE Warblers

LOREN KRAMER First Earth Day 1972 at Pine Mountain Settlement

Mary Rogers EE Planning 1972 forward and Program Notes 
MARY ROGERS Uncle William’s Mandate to Pine Mountain 1969

NANCY SATHER Correspondence Educational Planning 1969

PAUL HAYES Remarks on EE Programming & 75th Anniversary of PMSS 1988