Concord High Teacher Honored
By UNH For Outstanding Service
Contact: David Sims
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
Dec. 16, 2004
DURHAM, N.H. -- Phil Browne of Concord High School was awarded the
2004 Gary N. Lauten Award for outstanding service and commitment
to the University of New Hampshire's Forest Watch program at a ceremony
held last week on the Durham campus.
"Gary Lauten was a wonderful man and a unique individual so
I'm really honored that the team saw fit to give me the Lauten Award,”
said Brown, when presented with the handcrafted, wood-burned walking
stick that is given annually to recipients of the award. “I'll
cherish it, and I'll use it all the time.”
Browne has been instrumental in Forest Watch since it began in 1991
as a unique, hands-on way of conducting science with the help of
primary and secondary school students to collect and process data
relating to air pollution damage in forest stands in New England.
More than 260 schools have participated in the program, with 50
to 100 actively engaged in the science in any given year.
Lauten, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel who died in December
2001, served as the Forest Watch coordinator from 1992-1999. In
2002, the educational outreach program began recognizing teachers
who best exemplify Lauten's devotion to Forest Watch's long-term
"This award recognizes Gary's commitment to making science
accessible in the classroom. He loved the program and became its
heart and soul," said Barry Rock, Forest Watch director and
professor of natural resources and plant biology at UNH's Institute
for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS) and the Department
of Natural Resources. "Teachers love the program because it
integrates biology with physics, math, earth science, etc."
Each group of Forest Watch students collects white pine needles
from a 30 x 30 meter plot each year. They then conduct several ecological
and biophysical measurements using specific scientific protocols
developed at UNH. The samples are measured and analyzed by the students
who look for evidence of damage to the needles from ground-level
ozone or smog. Their results, as well as needle samples, are shipped
to UNH for further analysis.
Student data are compared to spectrometer measurements (which gauge
how much chlorophyll needles contain) collected from samples sent
to UNH, and the student and spectral data are compared to ground-level
ozone data collected from state and Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) air quality monitoring sites throughout New England. Student
samples provide evidence of changing white pine health and growth
year after year in response to both smog levels and climate variables
such as rainfall.
Over 15 years, Forest Watch has demonstrated that students can collect
valuable data for ongoing scientific research and learn science
and mathematics by doing research in their local area. Student data
have clearly shown how responsive white pines are to year-to-year
variations in ozone levels.
"This is a chance for kids to do real science, it's not just
cookbook, follow-the-lab manual stuff. Every year, their data is
published, and they realize they can be part of developing awareness
of environmental problems and how those problems can be solved through
their help," said Browne, who teaches a senior-level science
course that incorporates the Forest Watch program.For more information
on Forest Watch, go to www.forestwatch.sr.unh.edu.
Editors: A digital photograph of Phil Browne is available for
download at the Web site: http://www.unh.edu/news/img/lautenaward04.jpg.