Teaching the Hudson Valley from Civil War to Civil Rights

Educators are invited to discover new ways to use the region’s special places to teach about controversy and decision making at In Conflict Crises: Teaching the Hudson Valley from Civil War to Civil Rights and Beyond. Registration is now open for THV’s annual institute, July 24-26, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

This year’s opening talk, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Controversy and  Connection in the Classroom of Life, will feature Kim and Reggie Harris, musicians, storytellers, educators, and interpreters of history. Accepting THV’s invitation they wrote, “Our nation’s history is filled with conflict, opposition, controversy, and crisis, but is also rich in perseverance, collaboration, determination, and compromise. We look forward to reflecting on ways to use these realities to prepare students to be thinkers and problem solvers.”

During the institute, more than 15 workshops will connect educators with historians, writers, and scientists, as well as their colleagues from schools, parks, and historic sites throughout the Valley. Topics include
Evaluating Scientific Claims (Cary Institute), Using ELA Common Core to Teach Controversy (Lewisboro Elementary School teachers), and Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State and the Civil War, (New York State Museum).

On day 2 of the institute participants will choose one of six in-depth field experiences at Columbia County History Museum (Kinderhook), Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site and FDR Presidential Library (Hyde Park), Fishkill Depot, Katherine W. Davis River Walk Center (Sleepy Hollow), Mount Gulian Historic Site (Beacon), or Palisaides Interstate Park.

You can find out more about the program online

Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, courtesy Bill Urbin, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, National Park Service.

Tree Removal Planned for Vanderbilt Mansion NHS

The National Park Service (NPS) will soon begin work to remove hazardous trees along Route 9 at the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park (Dutchess County).

After a public comment period and agency reviews, the NPS made the decision to remove only trees that have been identified as high or severe risks to public safely. 100 trees will be removed out of the approximately 700 trees in this area. Once tree removal has been completed, 200 white pine trees will be planted in the understory, with the goal of re-establishing a visual barrier between the highway and estate grounds.  

During the project, the park will remain open to the public, but the work area will be closed for safety reasons. Some minor traffic delays may occur on Route 9 when trees leaning over the highway are removed.

Students Write About Place, Win Class Trips

Teaching the Hudson Valley (THV) has announced the winners of its first student writing contest. Three winning writers and their classmates will visit the places they wrote about with costs covered by a THV Explore Award.

Aayushi Jha, a fifth grader at Main Street School in Irvington, is the elementary school winner. Her essay, Tug of War, describes an experience aboard the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Aayushi’s teacher, Susan Wallace, responded to the announcement with this note, “WOW! We are so THRILLED! Thank you so much for offering this opportunity to the future
environmentalists and writers of the world!” You can read Aayushi’s essay online.

“Climbing up Bonticou Crag, I split open the wilderness,” is the provocative opening line of Looking Topside Down, a poem about the Mohonk Preserve by high school winner Nicole Yang. The middle school winner is seventh grader Emilie Hostetter who wrote a poem about Minnewaska State Park called I Did Not Know. Nicole and Emilie are students of Janine Guadagno at Tabernacle Christian Academy in Poughkeepsie. You can read both poems here.

“We received many wonderful and inspiring pieces of writing,” said THV coordinator Debi Duke. “Although we could have only three winners, we’re looking forward to publishing more student writers throughout the winter and spring. Essays about Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val kill in Hyde Park, the replica of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon, and Muscoot Farm in Westchester County
are among those readers can watch for.”

200 Years of Landscape History at Hyde Park

Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites will be offering historic landscape and garden tours, free, on the third Sunday of the month offered by the National Park Service and their partner, the Frederick W. Vanderbilt Garden Association.

On July 17, August 21, September 18 and October 16, participants can meet at 1:00 pm at the Vanderbilt Mansion visitor parking area for the “200 Years of Landscape History” tour led by an NPS Ranger. The tour concludes at the Formal Gardens where visitors may join FWVGA volunteers between 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm for an additional 30-minute tour.

Interpreter-guides will discuss the history of the gardens, Vanderbilt ownership and the on-going work by the Vanderbilt Garden Association which was formed in 1984 to rehabilitate and maintain the garden plantings.

Park in the Vanderbilt Mansion visitor parking lot and follow the gravel path on the south side of the mansion. Tours will be cancelled if it rains. Please call 845-229-7770 or 845-229-6432 for status if the weather is questionable.