Behind the Scenes

Part of me lives at the Smithsonian now…

And my students’ artwork is there too…

Talk about being honored and proud!

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I recently had the honor of visiting the Smithsonian’s American History Museum and taking a “backstage” tour with Jane Rogers, curator of sports.  You may remember that I first met Jane two years ago when she attended the Winter Iditarod Conference for Teachers (LINK).  She was there to learn more about the race and to begin to collect artifacts for a possible exhibit about the sport of dog mushing and the Iditarod.  The race is such an integral part of Alaska’s history and culture; it’s not just a sporting event!

The whole journey started for Jane when someone donated Libby Riddle’s sled to the museum (LINK).  By setting out into a storm that held must mushers up in the checkpoint, Libby became the first woman to win the Iditarod.  She is still a presence at race time… she greeted team after team under the Burled Arch and provides specially made hats for the highest placing female Junior Iditarod mushers.

But one object doesn’t make an exhibit, and the sled needed to be put into context, so Jane set about learning about mushing and gathering other Iditarod items.  This is one of my favorite conversations to have with kids.  What if you needed to create a museum exhibit about the Iditarod but you could only include ten items?  What would you include?  From whom would you collect them?  What part of the Iditarod story would you tell?  It’s fascinating, because from speaking with Jane and visiting the Anchorage Museum with her, I’ve come to realize that the Smithsonian isn’t just about collecting “stuff.”  The stories that the “stuff” tells and represents are the key!  And as you know… the stories are what drew me to the race in the first place!

So, while I was on the trail this year, Jane asked me to help her acquire a few things to represent the race.  I headed down to the Smithsonian to donate the artifacts I had collected for the museum.  Here is the list of items if you want to challenge your kids to think about what part of the Iditarod story these items tell:

  1.  Used Drop Bags from Martin Buser and Jeff King
  2. A No Pebble Mine Flag carried on the trail by Monica Zappa
  3. An unused dog urine sample collecting bottle
  4. A program from the Junior Iditarod Banquet
  5. A program from the Iditarod Finishers’ Banquet
  6. An Iditarider badge

Now… here’s the really amazing part of the list:

  1.  My Iditarod Teacher on the Trail patch designed by three of my students
  2. My Iditarod Teacher on the Trail name badge with the pins I collected

Yes, you read that correctly… the Teacher on the Trail program is represented in the Smithsonian American History Museum!  Jane realized that education is such a huge part of the Iditarod story that it needed to be represented in the collection.  I am so honored to represent all of the amazing teachers who have realized the value of using the race and as you can imagine my kids are over the moon to know their art work is there!

So I took a day off from school and took the train down to DC with my bag of artifacts.  Jane met me in the lobby and took me up to the storage area and opened cabinet after cabinet after cabinet to let me see all of the Smithsonian goodies in storage.  The sports are in the Division of Culture and the Arts, so the storage room I got to poke around I was amazing….  I got to see skateboards and snowboards, Lance Armstrong’s bike, Olympic uniforms, tennis rackets, ice skates, trophies, professional wrestling costumes, sports balls of all sizes, and more.  The cool thing is that not just professional athletes are represented… part of the American sports story is the millions of kids who play sports too! So there are kids’ trophies in cases right next to trophies won by people like Tiger Woods.  This room was also where all of the TV and Movie memorabilia is stored as well!  So I got peeks at Fonzie’s leather coat, Klinger’s dresses, Batman’s masks, Edith Bunker’s chair, the typewriter from Murder She Wrote, Ginger Rogers’ gown, the Muppets, and so much more!  It was really amazing… like exploring America’s attic!

But, of course, I wanted to see the rest of what Jane had been gathering for the Iditarod collection.  What a treasure trove she has…. DeeDee Jonrowe’s Humanitarian Award, her pink parka, and the full set of dog tags from her team…  Lance Mackey donated his parka, hat, boots, and bibs…  Ken Anderson gave dog coats and booties…

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And there sits my little patch in the middle of all of it.

Wow….

We Want You!

We Want You…

 

To be the next Iditarod Teacher on the Trail!

As my time starts to wind down, I want to take a minute to encourage anyone and everyone who has ever thought about applying to be the Teacher on the Trail to go for it!

It honestly has beenthe most rewarding professional experience of my life.  Going through the application process really made me analyze my teaching and think about the reasons behind why I do what I do in my classroom.  Being chosen as a finalist was amazing.  Being able to get behind the scenes of the race and experience it as a volunteer and insider made my teaching of the race so much richer.

To actually be chosen as the 2014 Teacher on the Trail was unbelievable.  To experience the race from as close as you can get without being on a sled was something you actually have to do to truly appreciate it.  My teaching and my life will never be the same again.  The friendships I’ve made, the self-confidence I’ve found, and the experiences I have had will never be forgotten.

And you could be the 2016 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail!  You could be getting the next Iditarod Teacher on the Trail Coat.  You could be hanging out with the Junior Iditarod racers on their half-way lay over. You could be riding in a sled at the Ceremonial Start.  You could be watching the teams arrive and depart in Takotna or Unalakleet or White Mountain or anywhere in between. You could be standing under the Burled Arch and welcoming them to Nome.

All you have to do to get the ball rolling is to apply.  You can find all the information you need here:  LINK

The Decision is Made!

I’m currently in the Millennium Hotel in downtown Anchorage.  The Millennium serves as the Race Headquarters during race time!  Things are starting to get busy here as hotel rooms are transformed into offices and work spaces for all race staff members and volunteers who will be working hard for the 2014 Iditarod.  There will be offices for communications, dropped dogs, phone rooms, Iditarod Air Force, volunteers, and more.  Everything that you can think of will be done right out of this hotel!  It’s pretty amazing to watch the transformation happen!

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The big news today is that the race is going to stay its regular course!  The Ceremonial Start will happen in Anchorage, the Re-Start in Willow, and we’ll follow the Northern Route as normal!  I know a lot of teachers are giving a sigh of relief that they don’t need to redo maps and charts!  Volunteers and fans are glad they don’t need to change their travel plans!  My weather app says we may get snow on Wednesday and Saturday, so cross your fingers that works out!

Tales from the Trail: The Weather Strikes Again!

I have made it to Anchorage!  I’m happy to report it is snowing!  I’m watching the Iron Dog start on TV, while updating the blog and preparing to go exploring.  The Iron Dog is the longest snowmobile race in the world. It travels 2,031 miles and will feature 38 two person teams this year. It uses a lot of the same trail as the Iditarod.  The racers are talking about how tough the training has been this year. They have run into the same problems as the mushers… the lack of snow!  You can check it out here:  http://www.irondog.org/

JR LogoYesterday, while I was on my layover in Salt Lake City, I got an email from Lacey Hart, Race Marshall for the Junior Iditarod.  The Junior Iditarod will be moving due to lack of snow!

The start and finish will be at Martin Buser’s Kennel in Big Lake.  From what Lacey has said, making the decision was a fully thought out process that involved her and other race officials snow machining along the trail to checkout conditions. While part of the trail was useable, part of it definitely was not safe.

Lacey seems very confident that the new trail will be challenging, but definitely doable! She points out that the Junior Iditarod is an Iditarod qualifier, so it should be a little challenging!  The plan is to start at Martin Buser’s kennel and follow the river to Yentna and then return to the kennel the next morning.  The race is usually 150-160 miles and this year it will be closer to 130-140 miles.

She also sent her response to the last set of interview questions my students sent to her.  They were wondering if the race would have to move… and it turns out they were right!  You can read the interview here: Lacey Hart

We will find out tomorrow afternoon if the Iditarod start will move to Fairbanks….

Gearing Up for the Educator’s Conference

One of the things I’m looking forward to in Alaska is the Winter Conference for Educators. It’s an amazing opportunity to be surrounded by all things Iditarod for a full week!  It’s always rewarding to be surrounded by educators who value the same things you do!

In addition to the many presentations by and for educators, the conference always features amazing field trips!  There’s a chance to be at Iditarod Headquarters while the mushers bring their dogs in for vet checks, attend the pre-race banquet where the mushers draw their starting order, and visit Jon Van Zyle’s studio and kennel.   Not to mention, you are in the right place to extend your day and be front and center for the Ceremonial Start!

You can find more information about the conference here:  LINK

For all of you who are coming for the conference this year, I’m anxious to meet you!  Here’s my top ten list of things you should know!

10.  Bring some Sharpies for autographs.  Bring several.  Carry them everywhere.

9.  Camera batteries can freeze when you are outside at the start.  Two years ago at the restart I got pictures of every single musher – except the last one.  The batteries froze. Bring a spare and store it on an inside pocket.

8.  There is a post office in the mall on Third Avenue.  You will quickly fall in love with flat rate postage boxes for shipping stuff home.

7.  Pick up the Anchorage Daily News every day you are there.  There is always some type of Iditarod article being published. They quickly become the reading material of choice my room!

6.  Drop bags are usually available at the shop at the Headquarters.  They make awesome objects to collect autographs on.

5.  So do the Race Guides.  Get two.  One to write in and one to keep perfect.  Carry them with you always.

4.  If you are staying for the Ceremonial Start, make sure that at some point you follow Fourth Avenue down to the big bend. You can get some awesome shots as the mushers make the turn.  Sometimes you even get to see spills!

3.  Try a reindeer hot dog!  They are yummy and your students will be impressed with your daring!

2.  Bring an empty suitcase… you are going to need it to get home!

1.  Soak up every minute of your experience! The starting line of the Last Great Race is an amazing place to be!!

Tales (and Tails) from the Trail

MUSH on to a Great School Year!!

MUSH on to a Great School Year!!

Since my school year has officially begun, (I have been at inservice training the past two days),  I wanted to take a minute to tell you about my plans for the year and the blog, and let you know some ways that you can join me on this amazing journey by dogsled!

One of the things that has always intrigued me about the Iditarod are the stories. Everyone has a story to tell about their involvement in the race, and I could sit and listen to those stories for hours and hours and hours.

As an educator, I know the things that draw my kids in the most are stories.  Any time that I can begin a lesson with, “Hey!  Do you want to hear a story?” or “I have a story that goes with that,” I immediately have their attention.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a week long seminar with Lucy Calkins and the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University.  Her work in getting students interested in writing by encouraging them to record and value their own stories had a huge impact on my teaching of writing.

And so… my theme for my year as ExxonMobil Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ is going to be “Tales (and Tails) from the Trail.”  My goal is two-fold.  First, I hope to present to you lessons that are prefaced with a story to help get your kids intrigued.  So, when I give you a lesson about the Iditarod Trail as a mail route, the lesson will begin with a story about Joe Redington and why the mushers carry trail mail.  When I present a lesson about the Alaska Gold Rush and how it ties to the trail, the lesson will begin with a story about miners picking gold off the beaches of Nome.

Secondly, I’m trying to gather as many Trail stories as I can to share with you.  There is a link at the top of the page where I am collecting stories from mushers, volunteers, and others.  My plan is to use some of these stories in my Writing Workshop mini-lessons, and I hope you can find a use for them also!

You may notice that there is also a link for Student Stories!  This is where you come in!  I hope that as your students do some writing about the Iditarod, they will share it with me to be published here!  They could write stories, poems, plays… anything.  I’d love to read it all and publish as much of it as I can. There is a link at the left to email them to me.  Another great way to keep in touch with me is via Skype.  I’d love to talk with you and your class either before and/or during the race as much as I possibly can. You can email me for details about that also.

Along the way, we are going to be meeting, hearing stories from, and following a rookie musher as she begins her training and also a former handler for a high-profile racer.  I will be sharing lots of math lessons (the Iditarod IS my math curriculum from January to April) and showing lots of other ways the race is embedded in my classroom. Once February and March roll around, I will be bringing your the race directly from Alaska (how cool is that!?!?)!

I’m looking forward to jumping on the sled with you…. please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you with your journey down the trail.

Linda’s GPS Tracker

LindaDon’t worry!  Linda is NOT where the GPS Tracker shows that she is….   Unlike the GPS Trackers that mushers carry and are attached to their sleds, Linda’s GPS Tracker is in her backpack.  This means the tracker goes inside and outside, inside another building, and then outside again.  This makes the possibility of false readings on her Tracker a reality.

When Linda lands at a checkpoint, it is necessary for her to leave her backpack and GPS Tracker outside for about 10 minutes to get the proper reading.  As may also be the case, if Linda’s backpack wasn’t outside for 10 minutes before she got on a plane to fly to a different location, a false reading could also occur.

We are expecting a correct reading on Linda’s GPS Tracker soon.

Diane Johnson

The 2013 Jr. Iditarod

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Saturday, Feb.23, after attending the start of the 2013 Jr. Iditarod, Linda headed out to Yentna Station to observe the 2013 Jr. Iditarod.

13 Jr. Mushers are racing in this year’s Jr. Iditarod.  Learn more about the Jr. Idiarod at this link.

Linda will be sharing her observations of the race after she returns from her stay at Yentna.

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Linda Fenton, 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail

Linda FentonLinda Fenton, 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™  teaches 3rd grade at the Waupaca Learning Center.  Having used Iditarod in the classroom as a teaching tool for the past 11 years, Linda says  “I have kept the Iditarod as part of my curriculum because students use research skills, technology skills, math, science, reading, map skills, writing and drawing. Over the next year, I hope to reach as many teachers and students as possible through the Iditarod website and use of Skype. The Internet is a window to the world.”  Read Linda’s bio at this link.

For lesson ideas, scroll below or use the menu on the left side of the page!

2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ Linda Fenton

Linda Fenton, Waupaca, Wisconsin, has been selected as the 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.  Linda is the 15th Teacher on the Trail™ to join this program that began in 1999.

Currently teaching 3rd grade at the Waupaca Learning Center, Linda has been using the Iditarod in the classroom as a teaching tool for the past 11 years.  “I have kept the Iditarod as part of my curriculum because students use research skills, technology skills, math, science, reading, map skills, writing and drawing. Over the next year, I hope to reach as many teachers and students as possible through the Iditarod website and use of Skype. The Internet is a window to the world.”

Beginning in June and throughout the next year, Linda will be creating standards aligned curriculum and developing an online journal at http://iditarodblogs.com/tott/.  During the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Linda will be flying from checkpoint to checkpoint sharing her observations and lesson ideas via the internet to students and teachers in classrooms around the world.

Linda will officially begin her responsibilities as a staff member and presenter at the 2012 Summer Camp for Teachers June 23 – July 2 in Willow, Alaska where she will introduce her 2013 Teacher on the Trail™ curriculum goals. She will also be a presenter at the 2013 Winter Conference for Educators, Feb. 26 – March 1, 2013 in Anchorage, Alaska.  For more information on these conferences, please contact Diane Johnson, Education Director at 605-290-3423 or djohnson@iditarod.com

The Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ program began in 1999 with an inspirational idea and grown into a nationally acclaimed and globally followed 21st Century technology project.

Target®2012 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ Blynne Froke

Blynne Froke, Photo by Terrie HankeAdventure and personal challenge have always been at the top of Blynne Froke’s to do list.  It seems like she has been on the go her whole life. Blynne was born in Canada and immigrated to California with her family.  When he father was sent to Venezuela for work, Blynne went along to start high school.  It took seventeen years and three states to complete her college education, but she never gave up, finally starting her teaching career at 35.  Summer 2007 found her back in South America working with her brother in Bolivia and spring 2011 she explored China with her oldest daughter.  For the last thirty years though Blynne has called rural northern California home where she raised two beautiful daughters with husband, Mike, and an ever-growing menagerie of dogs, cats, goats, chicken and ponies.  An active 4H leader, Blynne and her daughter raised a guide dog, which was a very rewarding experience.

After teaching English at the junior high level for almost 12 years, Blynne decided she was up for a real challenge and as is common in her life, an opportunity presented itself.  Community Day School (CDS) is a contained “last chance” classroom for high school students that have been expelled.  For nine years she taught everything from P.E. to Physics to British Lit. to reluctant teenagers and found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of he teaching life.

Challenge and Blynne’s new students seemed to go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Her special mix of patience and passion seemed to work for many, but something more intense was needed to draw in these very needy students and she was on the search again.  By chance, Blynne read a book about the Iditarod and shared it with her students.  They shared her excitement.  That was four years ago.  What started as a half an hour read aloud turned into a cross-curricular thematic program around which the essential themes of goal-setting, planning, personal responsibility, problem solving and stewardship revolved. The mushers came alive as “Real life heroes,” in a struggle every bit as inspiring and challenging as their own struggle to graduate high school.  It has found such fertile ground, that it graduated twice as many students from CDS than in previous years.

Blynne has embraced challenge not only in her professional life, but in her personal life as well.  What started as a whim, “a couch to 5K running club,” turned into another great passion.  Four years and a hundred pounds later, she has completed two half marathons and continues to train for distance events.

Last year saw more reductions in California’s education budget and following the “go where you are needed” call, Blynne returned to the high school to teach freshman and sophomore English.  Maybe not so surprisingly, these classes also found an expanded curriculum using the Iditarod as students wrote up research papers on various aspects of competitive dog mushing and created cross-age teaching experiences for elementary students.  These “Trail Buddies” were real heroes and are currently looking for other ways to engage elementary students in the Iditarod experience.

The adventure just keeps going as Blynne looks forward to a year as Target’s® Teacher on the Iditarod Trail™ and sharing the experience of the race and the remote villages of Alaska with students and teachers across the globe.

Blynne’s motto as always is “Challenge yourself and NEVER give up!”

Target® is the Official Sponsor of the Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ program.

Send an email to Blynne                                                                                                             Read Blynne’s Bio!

Thanking Martha Dobson, Target® Iditarod 2011 Teacher on the Trail™

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A big thanks  to Martha Dobson, the Target® Iditarod 2011 Teacher on the Trail™ for her energy, creativity, photography, expertise in literacy, and dedication throughout the 2010 – 2011 school year.

Congratulations, Martha!

The Target® Iditarod Teacher on the Trail program was created in 1998 by Finney, (Andrea Auf der Hyde, Indiana.)  Thus began the journey of a lifetime for educators who followed  Finney’s lead, and through example, took the trail to helping educators around the world guide students to academic success.

Bookmarks and Activities for Students and Teachers

Use the bookmark for your classes. They can be rewards for students who achieve reading goals, everyone can have one for themselves, or use them for end of the year gifts for your students. Print them on card stock so they will stand up to use.  I printed bookmarks on my school’s color printer. The pictures on the bookmarks are from the 2009 Iditarod.

Earlier in August I posted a Scavenger Hunt lesson with a summary and evaluation exercise, combining a physical education lesson with English/language arts. Here is a modification for the summary activity, and here is an example of the activity without modification.

You can keep up with the Iditarod Trail Committee now on Facebook. Here’s the address—

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Iditarod-Trail-Committee/112545578798091

Remember to visit the For Teachers section of www.iditarod.com for messages posted by Diane Johnson of the Iditarod Education Department.

Mushing on,

Martha

Martha Dobson, Target® 2011 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™

Martha DobsonMartha Dobson of Mount Pleasant, North Carolina is a lifelong North Carolinian, a sixth grade middle school teacher and the second North Carolina teacher to hold the Iditarod Teacher on the Trail position. Living all around North Carolina while growing up, she has resided in her small town near Charlotte, NC for 27 years with her husband, Allen, and three children, Robert, 25, Elizabeth, 22,  and Sara, 18.  Allen is a family physician. Robert and Elizabeth graduated college in the past year, and Sara begins her college career in the fall. A longtime Girl Scout , Martha has volunteered with her daughters’ troops since 1993 and worked as a freelance writer for a local newspaper.

 

A graduate of Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, Martha holds a bachelor of arts in psychology and a teaching certificate in elementary and middle grades education with concentrations in language arts and social studies. She enjoys horseback riding, being outdoors, travel, and reading. Her family has numerous cats and a rescued Siberian husky named Morgan.

 

Martha returned to the classroom at Mount Pleasant Middle School eight years ago to teach English/language arts. Immediately, she was drawn to the Iditarod by her prophetic choice of a Gary Paulsen novel to teach her students. In 2005, she traveled to the Iditarod race start to be an Idita-Rider in Phil Morgan’s sled, sure that she’d never have a chance to return to The Last Frontier. That experience was the “coolest thing” she’s ever done, she says, and the Iditarod bug bit her, hard. Now she’s been to four race starts, four Iditarod teachers’ conferences, and enjoyed a summer vacation.

 

Martha says that the Iditarod appeals to her sense of adventure and her appreciation of the unique and challenging event. Her students are intrigued by its uniqueness, too, and Martha has incorporated Iditarod in her classroom and school through lessons not only for her English classes, but classes in other grade levels and subject areas, including math, science, and technology.

 

As well as being a highly motivating teaching tool, Martha says the Iditarod and her efforts to become the Target® 2011 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ set the example of taking advantage of opportunities in life and perseverance. “I believe that you work hard, and get what you work hard for,” she says. Never dreaming that teaching would get her to Alaska, Martha believes it’s important for everyone to “go for it” in life, whatever their dream or opportunity might be.

 

Join Martha in her dream, crossing Alaska from Anchorage to Nome, bringing it to classrooms around the world through her lessons and messages posted here.

Target® is the official sponsor for Iditarod Teacher on the Trail.™  Please visit their website and learn about their dedication to education and communities.    Discover information about grants and how Target® helps children, families, schools, and communities to be more successful.

Iditarod Education Committee Selects Martha Dobson

Martha Dobson

Martha Dobson

Wasilla Alaska – (May 13, 2010) – Martha Dobson, Mount Pleasant, North Carolina, has been selected as the Target® 2011 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.

Martha Dobson, an educator at Mount Pleasant Middle School, North Carolina, teaches sixth grade English and Language Arts.  Martha’s prophetic choice of a Gary Paulsen novel to teach her students, led her to the Iditarod and a trip to Alaska.  After experiencing the race as an IditaRider and attending an Iditarod Teacher Conference in Alaska, Martha discovered that the race seemed to spark an interest like none other in her students. “The challenge the race presents to mushers, dogs, students, and me is a metaphor for the challenges of life and life opportunities, a strong example of setting goals, determination, and perseverance to run one’s personal race.”

Beginning in June and throughout the next year, Martha will be creating standards aligned curriculum and developing an online journal at http://iditarodblogs.com/tott/. During the 2011 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Martha will be flying from checkpoint to checkpoint sharing her observations and lesson ideas via the internet to students and teachers in classrooms around the world.

The Iditarod Teacher on the TrailTM program began in 1999 with an inspirational idea and has grown into a nationally acclaimed and globally followed 21st century technology project. With the support of Target® this program is able to reach out to children around the United States and the world, bringing “The Last Great Race on Earth” a little closer to their imaginations in a real-time, research based project that inspires students to read, write, and solve problems using 21st century skills.

The Iditarod Trail Committee is proud to welcome Martha to this very elite group of educators from around the country.  Martha will be sharing a preview of her Target® 2011 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ curriculum at the Summer Camp for Educators to be held in Wasilla, Alaska, June 20 – 28 and at the Iditarod Winter Conference for Teachers, March 1 – 4, 2011.    Martha is the 13th Teacher on the Trail.

A Heartfelt Thanks to Target

Herb Brambley, Target® 2010 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™

I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the 38th Iditarod.  Because of Target’s willingness to sponsor the Teacher on the Trail program, I had the opportunity to witness and share with students around the world one of the greatest sporting events in the world. By using Skype and the Target® Iditarod Teacher on the Trail Blog, I was able to communicate with students the experiences I was having as I was traveling the length of the Iditarod Trail. As I moved from checkpoint to checkpoint, students were able to ask questions about the weather, the people, the race, and the dogs. With my guitar, I was able to share folk songs and songs about the Iditarod with people in the villages. This has truly been a life changing experience for me, and one that I will continue to share long after I have returned to my daily routine.  Thank you Target for providing this wonderful opportunity, and for all the opportunities you provide for students and educators everywhere.

Herb Brambley,  Target® 2010 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™

View a video clip from the starting line of the 2010 Iditarod, Herb was the Idita-Rider with Trent Herbst by following this link.

Target® Supports Education!  Learn more by following this link.

Meet Target® 2010 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™Herb Brambley

Herb Bramblely, Target® 2010 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™

Herb, along with his wife Jamie, who is a librarian, live in a log home they built and now share with 3 huskies, 5 cats, and a mule.  Herb is a K-6 environmental education and technology teacher at Southern Fulton Elementary School in Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania.  He is also a part time grant writer for the district and has been instrumental in helping the school secure more than $115,000 for the environmental program and the nature trail.  Herb says he has the best teaching job anywhere and also the biggest classroom, since his classroom is the 140 acre school property of woods and fields, which also includes a pond, wetlands, and several streams.

Before becoming a teacher, Herb had a variety of occupations.  He was a farmer, blacksmith, farrier, sawyer, machinist and tool and die maker.  Having these experiences has enriched Herb’s classroom by giving him the necessary background from which to draw upon in order to make real life situations a part of the curriculum in his classroom.  What better way is there to give meaning to learning other than to use the lessons to solve problems students may face once they are in the real world?  Herb was also a Youth Conservation Corp Crew Leader for the United States Forest Service at the Teton Basin Ranger District in Driggs, Idaho.  That was one of the most rewarding and fun jobs he says he ever had.  Imagine getting paid to experience the Tetons and all the adventures they provide and, at the same time, teach students how to care for a fantastic resource so that it is there for future generations.  Speaking of future generations, the next generation has recently been added to Herb’s family by way of a grandson Zeke, and a granddaughter Ella.

Herb also volunteers his time to several community organizations.   He has been treasurer for the local soccer club for 20 years, and because of his extensive experience playing and coaching soccer, he also is a clinician at soccer clinics for coaches.  After receiving the necessary training, Herb became a Trail Stewardship Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Equine Council.    His skill and experience in building and maintaining trail has also led to a volunteer position with the Mid State Trail Association as a trail maintainer.

One project Herb’s school will be participating in this year is the “Books to the Trail” program.  Schools involved in this program hold a fundraiser to help schools in need receive books.

When Herb isn’t coaching soccer you can find him working with his Huskies.  He recently acquired a dog sled and spent a major portion of his spare time last winter viewing the blue ridge mountains of Central Pennsylvania from the back of a dog sled.

If you ask Herb, there’s no better way to travel than dog sled and it sure beats the noise and toxic exhaust of a four-wheeler or snowmobile.

If you ask us, there will be no better way to spend the 2009 – 2010 school year than being on the Iditarod Trail with the Target® 2010 Iditarod Teacher on the TrailTM Herb Brambley.