Finnish Delegation Visits Treetops & NCS
A team of educators and climate scientists from Finland visited North Country School and Camp Treetops on May 17, 2011. Representing Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre, the group was hosted by the Wild Center, its partner in a Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad grant program sponsored by the American Association of Museums. The purpose of the exchange—an American team visited Finland in March of this year—is to share experiences and learning on energy saving, climate issues, and “green” practices that support the regions’ sustainable tourism.
“What we have in common with this group,” said John Culpepper, NCS/Treetops facilities manager who coordinated the Finns’ visit, “is our interest in advancing sustainability at high altitude, high latitude resort locations.”
During their week-long stay in the U.S., the Finns also attended the annual conference of the Adirondack Research Consortium in Lake Placid and were part of a panel presentation titled Connecting Finnish and Adirondack Communities: Science Museums Facilitating Awareness & Action on Climate Change and Energy. They also spent time at Paul Smith’s and the Wild Center, and with Lake Placid High School’s Green Team, Keene Central School’s Garden Team, and with Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro).
The Finns began their visit here in the New House, a centerpiece of our campus greening efforts. “What’s really unique about this building,” John told our visitors, “is that virtually all the wood you can see—the interior and exterior trim, the paneling and flooring—comes from lumber harvested on our property. That dramatically reduces the negative environmental impacts associated with transportation.”
The next stop was the newly converted old maintenance garage, home to a new biomass heating plant that will burn locally produced wood chips and pellets rather than fossil fuels. Together with a smaller unit that heats Cascade House, the two biomass heaters will reduce our consumption of fossil fuels by 74 percent and provide a carbon dioxide offset of 420,000 pounds per year.
NCS Farm Educator Kat Tholen wrapped up with a tour of the greenhouse, farm, and gardens. She was impressed by our visitors’ enthusiasm. “They were so excited by everything we’re doing—how we involve students and campers in the production of food, maple syrup, and wool and how we’re able to work with classroom teachers to provide hands-on, placed-based learning opportunities.”
Interesting differences between practices in the two countries emerged. The Finns must adhere to governmental education standards, for instance, which can make it harder to introduce farm related curriculum; on the other hand, they benefit from state subsidies for energy reductions. Overall though, shared commitment to a common goal was evident. Said Kat: “We’re both aiming to educate youth about issues of sustainability so they can make responsible decisions as global citizens.”