Summit Charter School receives Appalachian Trail Conservancy grant

Summit Charter School, a K-10 public charter school in the Cashiers-Highlands plateau of North Carolina, has been awarded a grant from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) for students to participate in a Citizen Science monitoring program on the Appalachian Trail.

Summit eighth graders from left Anna Nichols and Logan Morgan participating in the Citizen Science monitoring program on the Appalachian Trail in the fall of 2018. The next program will take place during the 2019-20 school year, making it the twelfth consecutive year Summit has been awarded the grant and offered this opportunity to its eighth-grade students.

The newly awarded North Carolina A.T. License Plate Grant will be used to fund Summit’s 8th grade as they complete their 12th visit to the Appalachian Trail as “Citizen Scientists,” collecting data on the quality of the water at various streams and springs along the Appalachian Trail.  The 8th grade field experience focuses on the science curriculum unit of the hydrosphere.  This is the twelfth consecutive year that Summit Charter School has partnered with the Nantahala Hiking Club in order to assist the organization with their participation in the World Water Monitoring program. The students will conduct water quality tests at five specific sites where A.T. hikers typically refill drinking water. Other activities students experience during this field trip involve a salamander diversity program. The students discuss salamanders as indicator species as well as their importance to the unique temperate rainforest habitat of Western North Carolina. The students will visit an A.T. shelter, read and add to journal entries, hike for several miles on the A.T., visit the Albert Mountain Fire Tower, and interact with hikers.  The students will camp at the Standing Indian Campground, where they will be responsible for setting up camp, preparing meals, and using “Leave No Trace” guidelines. After the field experience, students will use the data collected over the years to create graphs of water quality components and write reports for each site with comments on any trends.

Summit Charter School is dedicated to providing experiences that will assure its students value the National Scenic Trail as an asset and treasure.

Pictured at the top of article front row from left are Nolan Billingsley, Tyler Stewart-Payne, Adisyn Westendorf, Caroline Woods, Ezra Brahnam, Mason Stoltzfus, Ian Evans, Beatrice Bryson, Liam Kennedy. Second row from left are Kayla Koonts, Chloe Stiwinter, Madison Jolly, Anna Nichols, Hudson Grothé, Lilly Kate Bryson, Bella Wilson, Ryan Ubertino. Third row from left are Morgyn Brannon, Stella Wilson, Rylie Conner, Annabelle Leonard. Back Row left are Logan Morgan and Bradley Roberts.

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC)

The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. The A.T. is approximately 2,190 miles in length, ranging from Maine to Georgia, making it the longest, continuously marked footpath in the world.  Volunteers typically donate more than 240,000 hours each year on Trail-related work and about 2 to 3 million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year. For more information about the ATC, visit  

Specialty license plates for the A.T. are a way to support the ATC in its work to sustain the Trail into the future.  The ATC receives $20 annually for each North Carolina specialty A.T. plate purchased or renewed.  Since the plate became available in 2005, North Carolina license plate holders have raised over $1,300,000 for ATC.  Revenue generated through this program is used to protect, maintain, and conserve the North Carolina portions of the Appalachian Trail and connecting trails, and to promote awareness of wilderness, hiking, and backcountry recreation.

About Summit Charter School

Summit Charter School is a tuition-free K-10 public charter school in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina that engages students in learning experiences that stimulate discovery, inspire excellence and nurture a positive influence in an ever-changing world. A picturesque mountain campus and state-of-the-art facilities in the Cashiers-Highlands plateau provide an ideal setting for students and teachers to embrace high expectations, build meaningful relationships and practice the seven virtues of the school’s daily Summit Pledge: “Each day in my words and my deeds, I will do my best to live these seven virtues: Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, Compassion, Self-Discipline, Perseverance and Giving.”

During the 2018-19 school year, Summit welcomed its first ninth-grade class and will add a high school grade every year until the inaugural high school class graduates in 2022. Following this spring’s opening of the Summit Center, which houses athletic facilities, a performance area and music and art classrooms, the school will open its new high school building. Learn more about Summit’s transformative place-based education and whole-child approach to learn at


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