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New Youth Education Coordinator Expands High School Students’ Horizons

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Highschool students putting up tents in open field

To ensure that future generations care about the land, we must give young people the chance to form bonds with nature. That’s why Kestrel is pleased to be hosting our first Youth Education Coordinator through the AmeriCorps MassLIFT program.

Madlyn MacKillop is supporting the Outdoor Programs at Amherst Regional High School (ARHS), and plans to work with Dean Technical and Holyoke High Schools to incorporate outdoor education into their programs as well.

The Outdoor Programs have been an integral part of the ARHS since 1964, when a group of students interested in outdoor trips partnered with their physics teacher, Charlie Camp, to create the Outing Club. Since then, the Outing Club, along with Outdoor Leadership and Survival Living, has inspired, educated, and empowered students to develop their leadership and outdoor skills.

In the past few years, the Outdoor Programs have needed more volunteer support, and Madlyn is excited to provide it. This semester, she is co-teaching the Outdoor Adventure and Leadership class, where students have been hiking, backpacking, caving, rappelling, cooking, learning their knots, and having memorable experiences outdoors. The students have hiked to the Summit House on the Mt. Holyoke Range, to the horse caves and Mt. Norwottuck, and to Mt. Sugarloaf. Starting in January, Madlyn will be working with the Survival Living program, where students learn survival skills and develop new relationships with the natural world.

In 2017, Madlyn will begin working in Holyoke with the Reconnecting Youth program, spending time outside with students in parks, on mountains—including Mt. Tom—and in other nearby nature areas.

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