The green tentacles slowly spread across the fields and obscure the maple, pine, and poplar trees. Heavy vines each laced with three broad leaves creep upward and forward causing a canopy of green to inch its way across the roads. Green hulking giants have appeared across the Gorge rising high into the air and their footprints leave dead native plants in their wake. A group of young people and their teachers stand at the edge of the spreading green menace. They ask each other what they can do before this blight takes over more of their campus. The students identify this invasive species as kudzu and nickname it the Green Blight.
Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA), like many areas of Western North Carolina, is fighting a battle against Kudzu. For every foot mowed and hacked another foot grows each day. Kudzu spreads so quickly that on bright and sunny days it can cover large areas within a matter of weeks. As part of the outdoor education program at Lake Lure Classical Academy, middle school and high school students learn about invasive species such as Kudzu and the Tree of Heaven. Though these invasive species may have their uses and provide some semblance of beauty, they are also destroying the natural environment of Western North Carolina. Science teachers at LLCA decided that their students needed to come up with innovative ways to battle the spread of invasive species, especially kudzu.
Partnering with a local goat farmer, students, and teachers at LLCA will work together to bring brush goats to campus. These goats will feast on the abundance of kudzu that spreads out across the campus. Students will work alongside the goats to help eradicate kudzu by working on finding the crown. Students learned that eradicating the crown helps to prevent kudzu from returning. Once the crown is removed the taproots and vines begin to die out. However before students can locate the crown, the goats must do the job they are hired to do. Goats will act as natural mowers, eating away at the vines and leaves until the earth can see the light of day again. Will the goats succeed in helping the school to eradicate these green giants? Will the blight continue to spread its way across the region? The end is still waiting to be written, but as with all things in life we learn that if we never try we won’t succeed.
Lake Lure Classical Academy offers a comprehensive outdoor education program that teaches students about sustainability, farming, environmental issues, and outdoor recreation. If you are interested in learning more about our outdoor education program and how you can get involved, please reach out to the school at (828) 625-9292 or by email at email@example.com. The outdoors is nature’s classroom and we believe that all students benefit from learning outdoors.