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KET Electronic Field Trips
The Forest
Teacher’s Guide
Program Details—Part 1

Major themes:

  • human uses of forests
  • the story of the American Chestnut
  • habitats and how they change over time
  • the history of Kentucky’s forests

Vocabulary terms (see glossary):

  • chestnut blight
  • consumer
  • decomposer
  • food web
  • habitat
  • overstory (canopy)
  • producer
  • succession
  • understory

Watch the Video
Watch Part 1
[requires RealPlayer®]

Kentucky Academic Expectations addressed:

  • 2.1: Students understand scientific ways of thinking and working and use those methods to solve real-life problems.
  • 2.4: Students use the concept of scale and scientific models to explain the organization and functioning of living and nonliving things and predict other characteristics that might be observed.
  • 2.5: Students understand that under certain conditions nature tends to remain the same or move toward a balance.
  • 2.20: Students understand, analyze, and interpret historical events, conditions, trends, and issues to develop historical perspective.
  • 2.36: Students use strategies for choosing and preparing for a career.
  • 2.6: Students understand how living and nonliving things change over time and the factors that influence the changes.


At the beginning of Part 1, three teens—Elaphe, 16; Sharonda, 13; and Acris, 13—are hiking through the forest. As they walk, they discuss how beautiful their surroundings are. But they are concerned that the forest will not survive due to humans’ needs for timber and space.

As they continue to hike, they come across Tim (played by actor Tim Womick), a forester with the Kentucky Division of Forestry who is surveying a logging site. Tim explains that much of the forest land in Kentucky is privately owned and that foresters and other professionals are available to help landowners manage their forests wisely so that they will be sustainable for years to come.

Tim tells the kids that they can learn a lot about the history of the forest by learning about the American Chestnut. Rex Mann from the USDA Forest Service tells the story of this tree, starting with the former role of the American Chestnut in Eastern forests. He recounts its near extinction due to the accidental introduction of the chestnut blight and explains how researchers are attempting to genetically create a blight-resistant version of the American Chestnut.

The story prompts a discussion among Tim and the kids about how animals and plants are interconnected in the forest. Steve Bonney, a biologist with the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife Resources, explains several concepts in nature that demonstrate this interconnectedness:

  • food webs
  • habitats
  • the effects on natural systems of the loss of species
  • the inevitability of change in nature
  • the process of succession
  • the need for different types of forest habitat

The kids then learn more about the history of the forest through an interview with Cecil Ison, USDA Forest Service archaeologist at Clear Creek Furnace. He tells how the actions of prehistoric Native Americans and early European settlers changed the nature of the forest through fire and the harvesting of wood to meet a variety of needs, such as timber for housing, fences, and railroad ties and charcoal for iron production.

Tim and the kids agree to split for lunch and then return to learn about the future of the forest.

600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951