Friday, January 8, 2010

Additional Essex Heritage Scenic By-way Meetings Scheduled and National Park Service Junior Ranger Program Being Developed


It was pointed out to me yesterday by one of my readers that my last posting offered in January noted a December date. I guess I was just reluctant to let 2009 end. I am now on track again and focused on the right month.

Essex Heritage Scenic Byway Regional Meetings

During the month of January, Essex Heritage and the consulting team that is assisting in regional scenic by-way effort will hold its second round of regional meetings. These Scenic Byway Advisory group meetings will be held in clusters to be certain that the regional aspects of the planning process can be assured. The six scheduled cluster meetings will be held beginning on January 12, 2010 with a meeting of interests from Marblehead and Salem, and will conclude with a meeting on January 28th that will be hosted by Beverly and will include Manchester-by-the-Sea. Other meetings will be held on January 13th in Swampscott with their neighbor Lynn, and on January 20th when, Essex, Ipswich and Rowley will gather in Rowley, The final two meetings will be held on January 21st when planners from Gloucester and Rockport will meet, and to complete the process, Newbury and Newburyport will meet in Newbury on January 27, 2010. A complete schedule of meeting locations can be viewed at,

These meetings are a follow up to an earlier set of gatherings and will continue through a third set of meetings to be scheduled later this spring. The primary purpose of the regional meetings is to insure that input is received from each of the 13 communities that will be a part of the 75-mile long State designated Byway. The input gathered at these regional meeting will insure that each participating community along with regional stakeholders have an opportunity to identify important features along the by-way for the consulting team. When the regional information gathering process is completed a corridor management plan will be created and the strategies outlined in that plan will be shared with the participants. The funding for this effort that was created by and managed by staff from Essex Heritage was obtained through a grant from the National Scenic By-way program and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Along with local community representatives, and regional stakeholders an invitation to join in this process has also been sent to the Representatives of the 13 communities who serve the region on Beacon Hill in Boston.

National Park Service and Essex Heritage Collaborating on Junior Ranger Program

Over the last several months Salem Maritime Historic Site staff and Essex Heritage staff have held a series of meeting working to craft a new and improved Junior Ranger program for the Salem Park. The program that will be in place for the 2010 park season will certainly make the Salem site and the Friendship a much more “family friendly’ place to visit. The plan to enhance and improve the National Park Service Junior Ranger program will focus on the development of programs that will both educate and interest youngsters from Ages 6 to 12 who will find that a visit to the Salem site in the future will be most enjoyable. The Salem site has always been a wonderful attraction for the three quarters of a million visitors who annually stop at the site, but this new program will provide an updated educational experience for the youngsters in the families who visit.

At a recent meeting, outlines of an Activity Booklet was provided and Essex Heritage staff is committed to work in tandem with Park personnel to make certain that this marvelous educational tool is complete and ready for use this year. The activities being contemplated will include exercises for the youngsters that will allow them to come away from the site with a greater understanding of what the maritime site meant to the country and this region and will put the explanations in lessons that can easily be taught and understood. One example of an activity that will be offered really caught my eye.

The solution to a question that will be posed in one activity will provide an answer that I have often pondered as well. For many years, I have enjoyed walking in Salem. The city has always been an easy community to move around in, and a great place to take a walk. For many years I took a daily walk from the downtown in the city where I worked, along Derby Street by the Maritime site down to the power station and back to Salem’s downtown business district. As I passed the Custom House, on many occasions I would add a “loop” to my walk that would take me out along the Historic Wharfs to Derby Light and back. I was never certain what that loop added to my walk in the way of distance, and now in the Junior Ranger Program there will be an activity outlined that will allow for a measurement using simple mathematic principals.

The exercise will ask youngsters to first measure their stride using the commemorative bricks laid at the Derby street end of the wharf when the Friendship was launched. The length of each brick at 7.5 inches will be provided and when the number of bricks in the length of the stride is calculated, a simple math solution will determine how many inches and then how many feet in ones stride. Then the youngsters will be asked to start walking from the Derby Street end of the wharf all the way to the Derby Lighthouse and count the number of strides taken. The number of strides from one end of the wharf to the other multiplied by the number of feet in ones stride will provide the answer to the question, how long is the wharf. That answer can be further refined to find how many yards traveled, and what percentage of a mile is the length of the wharf. This will be a great way to teach both how math can be used to solve everyday problems and at the same time will provide a wonderful exercise experience for youngsters that will be equally as beneficial. When the snow on the wharf melts, I am anxious to test the instructions and get my answer to how long the wharf is from one end to the other.

We certainly expect that in 2010 more junior Ranger Badges then ever before will be awarded. Completion of some portion of the activities that will be provided in the new Junior Ranger Activities Booklet will win a Junior Ranger badge, and we can anticipate that this summer many youngsters will complete the required tasks, and head home after an enjoyable experience with both an educational experience and a Junior Ranger badge to prove completion.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

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