Eighty students from the eighth-grade Medomak Middle School classrooms of Kelly Robbins, Paul Berube, Glenda Robinson and Lorraine Knight went to Warren’s Woolen Mill Park and Payson Park on March 8 and March 9 to gather information for making their quests.

Quests are community treasure hunts, or guided walks, that help tell a story of a particular place. They are seen as a quintessential, place-based, hands-on learning tool to connect people to the special places of their towns or regions.

The students learned from community experts in water quality/wastewater treatment, river natural history, and industry and canal history. The local experts gave hours of their time over the course of two consecutive mornings. They included Mike Courteney of Warren’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, Jay Astle of the Georges River Land Trust, Phillip Gerard of the University of Maine and Watershed School, Dana Johnson of Warren’s alewife harvest operation, Sophie Mendoza of Montpelier, General Henry Knox Museum, and Sandra Overlock, Clayton Winchenbach and Dick Ferren of the Warren Historical Society.

The quest site experts led students on four different routes along the river — and up to the historical society — from 4 Rod Road to the Powder Mill remains, interpreting the topics for them and providing invaluable, first-hand information. The eighth-graders will take the information back to school to continue their quest research in preparation for creating written clues (which contain information connected to their site’s history and natural history), a map, and a treasure box. Each quest created will tell a story of the St. George River in Warren.

The students chose to create their quests in Warren because, when studying about watersheds in the fall, they determined that more of the students in their wing lived in the St. George watershed, as opposed to the Medomak River watershed.

Last summer, Kelly Robbins and Paul Berube, two of the eighth-grade teachers at Medomak Middle School, were trained in quest-making at the free teachers institute called Questing to Learn: Connecting Schools, Kids, and Communities. Throughout this school year, the Quebec-Labrador Foundation’s Questing Program, based at the QLF Marine Program office in Waldoboro, has supported 18 teachers from six schools in Knox and Lincoln counties. Funding for the questing program is made possible by NOAA’s New England Bay Watershed Education and Training Program.

For more information, or to request a brochure for the upcoming 2010 Questing to Learn Summer Institute, contact Anne Stires or Jennifer Atkinson at 832-8109.