Philosophy of the AFS
Understanding through education. The coursework and field trips offered by the Appalachian Forest School have as their foundation a holistic biome approach toward forest education that puts the biome into world context, as well as studying the natural history of its local expressions.
Course content concentrates not only on forest differences in its many eco-regional expressions, but what is the same among all of them. Sometimes the course work will gets close-up and detailed, learning what is the hallmark significance of a particular forest location.
Other times we will stand back and soak up the broad view, seeing the forest as ONE entity that makes use of a strategic palette - its palette’s colors being the diversity of tree species the biome has at its disposal to successfully claim a piece of land as its own.
The AFS also hosts courses designed to include the rhythmic natural spectacles of the eastern wilderness – bearing witness to the Forest's rich spring wildflower displays, awe-inspiring bird and salamander migrations, and soul-shattering autumn colors.
Finally, we include courses to investigate the cultural history of the Eastern Forest - namely the Native American story before European colonization. Only by seeking such intimacy with eastern wilderness will there be sufficient advocates for the Forest, people who will link their appreciation for the biome with a natural commitment for its re-unification and preservation.
In the end, wherever our field trips take us, whatever mental landscapes our ideas will lift up to touch, we will be encouraging participants to make the connections that enable them to perceive the forest before them as a representative of the ONE Forest - whether standing among basswood and sugar maples in the northern hardwood forests of Wisconsin, wading the black gum-cypress swamplands of Louisiana, seeking shade under oak trees on a prairie savannah, exploring Poland’s old-growth forest, or humbled by the towering tulip poplars, hemlocks and rhododendrons of eastern China.
If we are to preserve America’s eastern temperate forest in the time we have left to do it, the Forest needs a stronger voice among its citizenry. We need more people who are "forest-literate" in eastern natural history and eastern conservation challenges. It is in this spirit that the Appalachian Forest School was born. We invite you to enter the Grove!