From Oregon to New Hampshire
It’s been a crash course in winter survival for this year’s NH Corps members, many of whom had never seen a New England Winter before arriving to Bear Brook State Park. This winter’s been one of the snowiest on record. Just over two months ago Van Fudge, a current NH Corps member, was living on the other side of the country in Corvalis, Oregon. Before moving to Bear Brook, Van had never been east of Texas. “Frozen water is novel to me, to go from never having walked on a frozen pond before, to skating on it and to now be playing hockey on it has been a cool progression,” he says. Van has been doing his best to experience this new environment and landscape to its fullest, not allowing the constant snowfall to deter his new found love of pond hockey. On weekends he can be found on the pond shoveling off enough space to continue skating.
Pond hockey has only been one of many firsts for Van. Since moving to New Hampshire he has picked up cross country skiing, has summitted Cannon Mountain and this past weekend went up north to Montreal. Of the 28 corps members who now reside at Bear Brook, Van is among the 17 environmental educators /field crew members, a position that places corps members in elementary school classrooms during the winter months and then onto New Hampshire trails for conservation work in the spring and summer. Since beginning his teaching role in the Manchester and Hooksett school districts, Van has instructed 180 students through place-based environmental education lessons. NH Corps members also serve as mentors to youth through participating in afterschool programming such as Kid’s Café at Salvation Army in Manchester, an after school program aimed at, “feeding children physically, emotionally and spiritually.” Between lesson planning, teaching, and keeping up with his skating, Van is left with a small amount of free time yet he has taken the concepts of place-based education to heart and has made the exploration of Bear Brook one of his top priorities.“I’ve certainly been wide-eyed since being here,” he says. With conservation season already on the horizon it doesn’t seem Van will run out of new environments to live, work and play in.