Thetford Outdoor Program Class Blog

Welcome to the Thetford Outdoor Program class website. Over the course of each academic year, we’ll be sharing news and photos from our outdoor learning adventures, as well as resources and reflections created by our students along the way.

Learn more about the Thetford Outdoor Program.

TOP Student Reflections Fall 2020

Dig into what students are truly thinking about in the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education Course in the Fall semester of 2020. This website includes student’s favorite free writes of the semester.

My sense of wonder

A website with student reflections inspired by Rachel Carson’s Sense of Wonder.

Reflecting on the Thetford Outdoor Program

by Ethan Marshia It seems like it was just yesterday that we all ventured out on our first journey together. Entering the portal to a seemingly otherworldly dimension. I was just a mere fledgling. This class has given me everything I could have imagined and more. It has allowed me to see the forest through […]

Thetford Outdoor Program Featured on NH PBS “Windows to the Wild”

For the past few years, Thetford Academy’s Outdoor Program (TOP) has offered “TOP Summer” trips to TA students. One of these trips, a five-day paddle down the scenic Connecticut River led by TOP coordinator and outdoor educator Scott Ellis, is the subject of an upcoming episode of New Hampshire PBS’s show “Windows to the Wild.” […]


By, Jesse Sweet The Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education course worked on a unit studying dendrochronology. Dendrochronology is the technique of dating events, environmental change, and archaeological artifacts by using the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings in tree trunks. During this unit we focused on the study of red pine trees. We cored trees, […]


By Ezekiel Colburn The Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education Course went on a field trip to multiple geocache spots near Thetford Academy. A geocache is a hidden container marked by a GPS point. The person who hides the geocache can also provide a clue as to where the geocache is located. Our teacher, Scott Ellis […]

The Brand New Low Ropes Course

By Louis Dybvig Thetford Academy has a brand new low ropes course. Many of the elements were built by students in the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education course. One element is called Nitro Swing. It has four small platforms arranged in a diamond shape and participants have to swing on a rope and land on […]

First Fires

By, Caleb MacNeil People have asked me what are some of the most important things to know about the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education class at TA. One of my responses is that a key component of the class is the fires. During the first fires of the year, Scott Ellis supervises us. He explained […]

Alumnus Gives Back

By Kaydence Rich The Thetford Academy Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education class visited Mike Hebb at his home in Strafford, Vermont on September 26th. Mike is a Thetford Academy alumnus, class of 64’ and very knowledgeable about a variety of topics. We visited his house to see how he cares for his apple trees, to […]

Zebedee Wetlands Field Trip

By Brennan Vaughan The Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education course went to Zebedee Wetlands in October of 2019. Zebedee is managed by The UpperValley Land Trust and is a popular bird watching area in Thetford, VT. At Zebedee there is a trail that surrounds a swamp. On the field trip, Scott Ellis (Thetford Outdoor Program […]

Union Village Dam Exploration

By Faith Crowe Students in the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education course read a book called Reading the Forested Landscapes by Tom Wessels. This book is about the land we live in and what’s shaped the land. The book shows the reader how they can find clues in the forest that tell a story.  As  […]

A Quest

By Russell Fenton On October 21, 2019, students in the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education course went on a  valley quest in the state forest. The quest started at the bottom of the hill and went throughout the forest. There were clues along the way to find each step. The clues were descriptive, but it […]

Seven Minutes

By Kai Harris What is a seven minute free write? Seven minute free writes are a time where the whole Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education Program class sits down and writes for seven minutes without stopping. There is always a prompt but what follows that prompt is up to the writer. Free writes are also […]

The Power of Apple Cider

By, Madison Hatch This year, the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education course did a unit on studying apples and apple cider. Each student participated in collecting a variety of apples from different locations, making cider and conducting a lab. My favorite part was getting to taste the freshly made cider. Surprisingly, the flavors of the […]

Buckthorn Removal

By, Liam Patterson What is Buckthorn? Buckthorn is an invasive species located in many parts of New England. Here, in Thetford Vermont, buckthorn is very prominent on the school property and in the State Forest. One of the classes here at TA called, Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education, plans to do something about it. In […]

The Overnight

By Charles Longshaw This reflection is from an overnight solo experience for Thetford Academy’s Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education Program. We were out in the wilderness, trying to see if we could make it through the whole night alone with limited materials. All I chose to bring with me were warm layers, hand warmers, a […]


By Ethan Howe In the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education course, a major component of the class is “solos.” Solos are a designated time each week where students return to their solo spot and spend reflective time alone in the wilderness. A solo spot is a quiet place in the forest that each student has […]

Hulbert Outdoor Center Field Trip

By Jack Hastings The Thetford Outdoor program took a field trip to the Hulbert Outdoor Center on November 7th. The class was presented with several low ropes course elements to overcome. One example of the elements we had to complete was a rope swing with two platforms called Nitro Swing. The objective was to get […]

TA’s New Mountain Bike Trail

By, Ethan Marshia The Thetford Outdoor Program has constructed a new mountain bike trail that is now available to the public. Students in the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education course worked on the trail over the course of two weeks. It is located in the woodlot, across from Academy Road. Each student was responsible for […]

Mountain Biking at TA Coming Soon!

Thetford Academy is gearing up to open the town’s first fully sanctioned mountain bike trail and one of only a few high school mountain biking trails in Vermont. The new, one-mile flow track is slated to open on Saturday, Oct. 19, with a launch event on campus from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  The new […]

TOP to Offer Outdoor Opportunities this Summer

The Thetford Outdoor Program (TOP) is offering three amazing outdoor opportunities this summer.   Trail Crew, June 17 – 21 The summer Trail Crew maintains and builds trails on Thetford Academy’s 295 acres of woodlands and surrounding forests. A paid work opportunity and a great experience for students to add to their resume, Trail Crew is […]

Understanding Your Carbon Footprint and Forest Carbon Sequestration

Follow the link below to see the Carbon Footprint Map Students in the Environmental Studies and outdoor education course have been working on understanding their carbon footprint and how forests can reduces atmospheric CO2.   Each student started with calculating their carbon footprint for one year. To do this they needed to know their electricity […]

Maple Sugaring Video Presentation

This is a Pecha Kucha inspired presentation of maple sugaring made by students in the Environmental Studies and Outdoor education course in the Thetford Outdoor Program. Learn how to collect sap and make maple products.

TOP Hosts Maple Sugar Social: March 22, 2019

The chickadees have changed their call and that means it’s maple season! Join the Thetford Outdoor Program (TOP) at TA’s new sugar house for its first Maple Sugar Social. This community event is free and open to the public. Come by for sap boiling, syrup tasting, sugar on snow, tours of TA’s sugar bush and […]

TOP Capstone Projects

Take a look at what the students from the Outdoor Education course did for their capstone projects this term. Why to Join TOP Video By Carter Banks Click here to watch My goal for the project is to inspire students to take this class, and give them an honest look at what what being in […]