Students at the Derby Elementary School in northeastern Vermont have adopted a 265-mile-long project for this year--the hikers' Long Trail that runs the length of the state from Canada to Massachusetts.
While most of the trail is publicly owned and under the official protection of the Green Mountain Club, 57 miles of it remain in private hands. So there is always the danger that owners might truncate the trail by prohibiting hikers from passing through their property.
But the 4th-, 5th-, and 6th-grade participants in the school's "Challenge Room" program are determined not to permit that to happen.
They have launched a campaign to encourage people to sponsor individual trees along the trail. The proceeds will go to help the club buy portions of the privately owned land for continued public use.
For $20, community residents can buy a student-prepared certificate bearing a color photograph of a tree, along with a description of its measurements, location, and characteristics.
The certificates are so accurate, notes a teacher at the school, Doug Westin, that copies are being placed in the Vermont Historical Society's archives.
The project has provided his students with "a wonderful exercise in the basic skills," Mr. Westin says. In the spring, students will be rewarded with a hike along the Laraway Mountain stretch of the trail. ''By then, that portion of the trail will have been purchased," he predicts.--jw