In response to the irresponsible representations of Appalachian culture and the wild-crafting of medicinal plants portrayed on shows like Appalachian Outlaws and Smokey Mountain Money, beginning in 2016 Rural Action’s Environmental Education and Sustainable Forestry programs began developing a hands-on forest herb curriculum for elementary and middle school students in Athens, Hocking, Morgan, and Perry counties. The lessons are adaptable depending on grade level, but topics covered generally include preferred habitat, conservation, plant biology and reproduction, plant history, uses, planting techniques, and, for older students, the basic economics for these commercially valuable herb species.

Rural Action is continuing to develop and implement the Appalachian Stewards program. For more information, or if you’re a teacher interested in bringing the Appalachian Stewards program to your school, contact Environmental Education Director Joe Brehm at joe@ruralaction.org or Environmental Education Program Manager Darcy Higgins at darcy@ruralaction.org.