A Weekend Service Trip: BHS Students Travel to the Merck Forest and Farmland Center

BHS Students at Merck Farm in Vermont
BHS Students on an educational/service trip to Merck Farm in Rupert, Vermont – Courtesy photo

Submitted by Michael Griffin, Program Administrator for Science at Bedford High School

Students from BHS attended a weekend service trip to Merck Forest and Farmland center. Merck Forest and Farmland Center (MFFC) is an educational nonprofit organization with a mission to teach and demonstrate innovative, sustainable management of forest and farmland. MFFC is composed of 3,162 acres and includes a 3,100 acre managed forest, certified-organic sugaring operation and a 62-acre farm.

The education director for the farm is Sarah Ullman, a former BHS student. Sarah coordinates the educational programs at MFFC. The trip was coordinated by BHS program administrators Michael Griffin and Jackie Supprise.

BHS students building a new trail at Merck Farm
BHS students building a new trail at Merck Farm – Courtesy photo

A group of 10 students spent the weekend building as a trail crew and completing farm chores. The main service objective was to build a new trail connecting the parking area to the visitor center. Student removed rocks, cut out tree stumps, and shaped the trail in the morning. In the afternoon they learned how to be part of a “fire line” to  put gravel on the trail. The entire process included team building and a lot of hard work. After the trail was completed, the students participated in some farm chores. Students helped to feed the horses, provide water for the sheep, and fed the hogs and piglets, and five baby goats.

After hiking to their cabins with all of their food and gear, the students had a campfire dinner and then hiked up one of the mountains to enjoy sunset. Back at the cabin site, they enjoyed s’mores over the campfire.

Other highlights of the trip included swimming in the oldest quarry in the United States. With the temperature of the water being so cold, it was more of jump in and get out as fast as possible. In addition, the students helped to catch the goats that appeared to escape every time the group walked by them.

For many students, this was a new experience. Learning to cook over an open fire, experiencing the joys of an outhouse, and just enjoying nature. On the drive home, many expressed an interest and hope that the trip will occur again next year and they hope to bring more students.

Celebrating the trip's end in Merck Farm's meadow
Celebrating the trip’s end in Merck Farm’s meadow – Courtesy photo

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