To learn something from a book is one thing and has its place, but to be in the middle of what you are learning and have a hands-on experience … that’s when learning can occur at a deeper level.
For the new director of Mountain Trail Outdoor School (MTOS) Meghan Hull, that experience is what calls her to her new position. “When I went on my first hike at Kanuga in 2011 with the MTOS staff as I was training for my first season as an instructor, I became aware of how unique and amazing it is here. Kanuga has such beautiful land that offers a rich environment for learning.”
Hull says that while she had certainly learned of the things she saw on her Kanuga hike in science courses in college, she was inspired by witnessing in person the diverse ecological system found on Kanuga’s 1,400 acres.
“Even today, I find something different each time I get outdoors at Kanuga, from fungi to a different type of insect, and I’m impressed by how much there is to discover.”
MTOS is an outdoor education program of Kanuga that formed in 1991. It takes learning out of the classroom and into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The program welcomes both public and private schools for residential field trips and tailors the program to fit the goals of individual groups, ranging from a science curriculum that meets standard course of study requirements to team-building exercises and adventure-based programming.
Hull says experiencing firsthand what you have learned in school reinforces that knowledge in a powerful way. Seeing the students have those moments of recognition is what motivates her.
“When students who live in the city and have never ventured into the woods come to Kanuga, they may have never seen the stars before. When night falls, and they look outside, they say, ‘Wow! I didn’t know the sky looked like this.’ Seeing their reaction to experiencing nature for the first time and watching these young people grow through their experience outdoors is rewarding to me.”
Hull has experience in outdoor education, traditional classroom teaching and camp management. Before accepting the director position in December of 2015, she served as an instructor at MTOS for three seasons and as assistant program director for Kanuga’s outreach camp, Camp Bob. She has also taught middle school science and math in Florida. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in integrated science education from Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
MTOS kicks off its spring season March 7 and will host 36 schools through May. There is still space available. To learn more about MTOS and how you can bring your school group, please visit mtos.kanuga.org.