Gilmanton School Teacher
Lauded By UNH Forest Watch Program For Outstanding Service
Contact: David Sims
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
Dec. 15, 2005
DURHAM, N.H. – Mary Fougere, a middle school teacher at the
Gilmanton School in Gilmanton, N.H., was awarded the 2005 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. In addition to the Lauten plaque,
Fougere was presented with the handcrafted, wood-burned walking
stick that is given annually to recipients of the award.
Fougere, who teaches science to 7th and 8th graders at Gilmanton,
has been involved in Forest Watch since 1992. The program is a unique,
hands-on way of conducting science with the help of primary and
secondary school students who collect and process data relating
to air pollution damage in forest stands in New England. Over 350
schools have participated in the program, with some 50 to 100 actively
engaged in monitoring white pines, a bio-indicator species for ground-level
ozone (smog), in any given year.
Fougere says the first set of white pine trees the school used in
the study were “lost” to a new wing that was built.
“We’re now on a second set of five white pines,”
she said. Receiving the award, Fougere noted, is especially gratifying
because “Gary Lauten was a really good friend.”
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
“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. Added Rock, “Teachers love
the program because it integrates biology with physics, math, earth
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.
Fougere notes that because most of the pines used in their study
are relatively unaffected by the pollution (ozone) that can damage
needles, her students have come to appreciate the good air quality
of their immediate environment. That said, she adds, “They
do get the message loud and clear that somebody needs to be watching
things closely like this” in order to monitor the health of
Forest Watch 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 the course of 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.
For more information on Forest Watch, go to http://www.forestwatch.sr.unh.edu.
Editors: For a photo of 2005 Lauten Award winner Mary Fougere, go
Photo courtesy University of New Hampshire.