Fostering Divergent Thinking

by Wendy Warren

Here’s a simple game to play with your family. Choose any object around your house— the simpler, the better. Perhaps you pick up an ink pen. Each of you take a turn sharing whatever you can imagine that object could be used for. You can imagine it far larger than it actually is, or far smaller, or just the same size. For example, pens have long been used as paper shooters—but what about as straws? Or maybe it could be a bridge for ants. Or a baton for someone leading a parade. Or if it was much larger, perhaps it could be a water pipe. You get the idea…Keep going until you absolutely run out of ideas and then pick another simple object, say…a paper clip, then start again.

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Why Inquiry-Based Learning?

by Wendy Warren

What questions did your family ask last week, as you went out and explored the natural world? How did you go about finding answers—and then going even deeper into the topic? As last week’s blog post shared, following your natural curiosity leads to some of the most authentic learning there is. Sometimes it takes a spark to rekindle curiosity that lives right at the surface of most children, but sometimes gets buried deep inside later in life.

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Eco-brick Drop-in Workshop

Written by Julia Roberts, ’20
Ecobricks that Lucas assembled onto a wire frame to use as part of the compost bin he is making.

This past MLK Day, the Forestry Outreach Center hosted an Eco-Brick building workshop for community members and college students alike to attend. Led by one of the Center’s labor students, Lucas Collett, the workshop educated its participants on how to make Eco-bricks as well as their environmental relevance.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves…


What are Ecobricks?


Eco-Bricks, according to the Global Eco-Brick Alliance, are, essentially, building blocks made of plastic bottles which are packed with used, clean and dry plastic. The packing can be any form of soft plastic, broken-down hard plastics, and un-recyclable products, such as styrofoam or wire. Once packed, the bricks can be used in practically any form of construction: from a compost bin (such as the one Lucas is constructing for the Center) to a full-scale building! 

For more information on Eco-Bricks, check out the Global Ecobrick Alliance website here.

An example of ecobrick construction

About the Event:

Over 30 people from all corners of Madison County and Kentucky attended our Eco-Brick Drop-in Workshop. Whether you came to represent a local organization interested in using Eco-bricks or simply wanted to spend a fun afternoon with friends, all who participated had the opportunity to learn about the uses of and create their own Eco-bricks.

“I think the event went very, very well, better than I had hoped. So many people from the community, both Berea and elsewhere, came and stayed and seemed super interested. There were people of all age groups, just in groups…talking. I think that part of what makes eco-bricking so special, [is] it’s so accessible to all age groups and is a great community builder. Making the bricks is very chill and it encourages conversation.” – Lucas

Lucas talking about how to make ecobricks
The 60 bottles brought to or made at the workshop!

Why it’s important/what you can do:

Though you might not be constructing any full-scale buildings anytime soon, eco-bricks are still an extremely versatile building material! Further, as you begin to fill your bricks, you might have a better idea about your personal plastic consumption. Eco-bricks are a simple format to contain and productively reuse our plastic waste, and anyone and everyone can participate in this movement and help build awareness regarding individual plastic use!

“I think the best thing people could do to help the eco-brick movement is [to] make their own creations. Be it some small planters for a garden in their yard or large creations, anything visible will help. Additionally, being more conscientious about plastic and consumer usage.” – Lucas

Keep up with the Center on Facebook and Instagram to see when Lucas completes his compost bin!

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Now Presenting: Brushy Fork Nature Coalition

by Chase Denny

There is a new kid on the block, folks! Berea College is proud to present the newly established organization known as the Brushy Fork Nature Coalition (BFNC). Student-led and student established group with the purpose of engaging students, faculty, staff, and community members. The BFNC plans to do this through opportunities that prove to be service-oriented, educational, and beneficial to the environment. The mission of the Brushy Fork Nature Coalition is to clean, maintain, and restore Brushy Fork’s Forest & Trails in order to provide an educational and recreational setting that offers students an opportunity to learn about the environment, wildlife, sustainability, and the outdoors. Berea College Sophomore Hunter McDavid is the founder and coordinator of the Brushy Fork Nature Coalition. Working alongside Hunter as the advisor for this coalition is the Forestry Outreach Center’s own Wendy Warren. This is an exciting development for nature lovers, those going into a nature related profession, and/or anyone that is interested in the beautiful scenery Brushy Fork has to offer. Brushy Fork is located right behind the Alumni Building at Berea College and is home to many beautiful sights

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Why Are We Building a Bridge?

Chase Denny                                                 

Why do we ever build bridges? Sure, we build bridges to travel over water so we can take our fancy cars from place to place or so we don’t get our feet wet when we need to cross a creek. Although these functions are very helpful, I do not believe these are the most important uses for a bridge. Bridges can be so much more than some concrete or some wood we use so our hiking boots stay dry. Bridges connect places and more importantly, bridges can connect people. They can help establish entire communities from nothing or repair longstanding communities that are on the brink of falling apart. This is why we are building a bridge through our work here at the Forestry Outreach Center (FOC).

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If a Tree Falls…

by Trent Powell

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Of course! But even if people were around to hear it, they would never be able to understand what the tree was saying. Peter Wohlleben, forester and author of “The Hidden Life of Trees”, discovered that trees, much like many other living organisms, have a way of communicating with one another.

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Breathing Too Loudly

I don’t want anyone to hear me breathe too loudly.

This is the thought that held me back from hiking for so many years. That held me back from doing quite a bit of things, really. It is no secret that walking uphill causes a person to breathe more heavily, but imagine for a moment, that you believe to do so–to breathe heavily–is wrong.

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