At My Wonderful World, our mission is to give students the power of global knowledge. We emphasize that “we are not alone,” a slogan backed up by statistics from the Roper Survey showing that half of young Americans can’t find India or Japan on a map, or that 8 out of 10 students can’t locate Iraq. Although we feel strongly that students need to know world geography, what about Americans’ knowledge of our own country?
In a Spring 2009 Arc News article, Vice President for Education at NGS, Daniel Edelson, described our goal of advancing geo-literacy by 2025. In this article, Edelson pointed out that half of Americans ages 18-24 can’t find New York on a map–let alone anywhere else in the world–and even fewer (4 out of 10) can find Ohio.
Many surveys show that Americans just don’t know the geography of their own country. Of those surveyed, one-third couldn’t calculate American time zones and two-thirds couldn’t locate Louisiana (in a post-Katrina world)! It’s time for this to change, so this week, I’ll be sharing five great (non-political) things about my home state–Vermont!
Vermont isn’t called the Green Mountain State for nothing. A part of the Appalachian Range, Vermont’s mountains are the most prominent feature in its topography, with the tallest, Mount Mansfield, at 4,393 feet. In the summer, it’s hard not to find a hiking trail (I can find at least three closer than the nearest grocery store), and in the winter, Vermont boasts over 20 places to ski and snowboard!
Seventy-five percent of Vermont’s total cash receipts, and 20% of New England’s, come from sales of Vermont milk. With 148,000 cows (for a human population of approximately 621,000), Vermont cows produce 17, 000 pounds of milk every year. Where does the milk go? Vermont has numerous local dairy farms producing milk and cheese that is sold at nearly every grocery store. Oh, and I couldn’t forget Cabot Cheese, which is exported around the world.
3. Ben and Jerry’s
Also a dairy product, this homemade ice cream is marketed as “Vermont’s Finest.” Using dairy from cows without rBGH (a hormone found in many commercial dairy cows), Ben and Jerry’s
is a sustainable business, using fair trade products and corporate practices. You can visit their factory in Waterbury, VT, complete with a flavor graveyard holding flavors like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Need inspiration? Try One Sweet World or Imagine Whirled Peace. Want something a little exotic? Jamaican Me Crazy, Magic Brownies or Karamel Sutra is a good bet. This company has everything!
It’s pretty difficult to live in Vermont and not see how important the environment is, because it’s everywhere! State parks are great places to hike, camp and swim, and not too far of a drive from virtually any location. Great nature centers like the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) teach children about wild birds. Many people keep gardens, and farmers markets are convenient places to get locally grown vegetables on weekends.
5. Maple Trees
Every year when Vermont’s trees turn shades of red, yellow and orange, it’s obvious that fall has come. Vermont is the largest exporter of maple syrup in the United States, and within the state itself, the products formed are equally famous. In early spring, people begin to tap trees for sap (I did it last year as part of a class. See my group below). Vermont syrup is graded by flavor and color from Fancy to Grade B (the darkest and my favorite) and goes
great on pancakes, in baked goods or as candy. After trying some of this liquid gold, it’s easy to understand why Vermonters love their syrup.
That’s five things that I love about my state! At My Wonderful World, we would love to hear what you love about your state, so let us know!
Melissa for My Wonderful World