Month: December 2020

South Carolina Study Concludes Agriculture and Solar Industries are ComplementarySouth Carolina Study Concludes Agriculture and Solar Industries are Complementary

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Southeast Energy News:Building on an April analysis from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association and the state’s agricultural agency, the latest study finds that less than a third of 1 percent of North Carolina’s 4.75 million acres of cropland now houses solar panels – belying criticisms that large-scale solar arrays are threatening the state’s traditional farms.“You can’t make up the numbers,” said the Sustainable Energy Association’s Robin Aldina, lead author of the April report. “They do speak for themselves.”With a new law adopted this summer expected to more than double the state’s solar capacity – mostly in the form of utility-scale installations – the numbers will undoubtedly increase.But analysts say even if large solar developments accounted for more than a quarter of the state’s electricity supply – a fraction they say is probably unrealistically high – only about 2.2 percent of cropland would be impacted.And while researchers acknowledge solar could cause a “small but manageable impact” on agricultural productivity, many contend the promise of the sheep-solar symbiosis and other benefits outweigh those downsides.“Despite what some folks will lead you to believe, solar and agriculture are not at odds,” said Aldina. “They’re not competing, but complementary industries.”More: Farmers, experts: solar and agriculture ‘complementary, not competing’ in North Carolina South Carolina Study Concludes Agriculture and Solar Industries are Complementarylast_img read more

Power plant retirements offset nearly 90% of U.S. capacity additions in JunePower plant retirements offset nearly 90% of U.S. capacity additions in June

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):U.S. generating capacity expanded by a net 141MW in June, as 1,370MW of new operating capacity was completed and 1,229MW of capacity was permanently retired, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.A total of 15 generation units entered service, while 11 units were retired. Natural gas accounted for the largest amount of completed capacity, at 42.3%, while coal made up the majority of retired capacity, at 68.6%.Six new power plant units with a total capacity of 138 MW were announced. Although a single wind project accounted for 57.2% of total announced capacity, planned battery facilities made up the largest number of new units.The largest single resource brought into service in June was PSEG Power Connecticut LLC’s 576-MW Bridgeport Harbor Station Combined Cycle Project in Fairfield County, Conn. The two-unit gas facility is part of parent company Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.’s strategic plan to upgrade its generation fleet in line with its commitment to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. Bridgeport Harbor operates in the ISO New England market.The next-largest addition was the 478-MW, wind-powered Hale Community Energy facility in Hale County, Texas, owned by Xcel Energy Inc. subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Co. Duke Energy Florida LLC unveiled plans to build three lithium-based battery storage projects. The 11-MW Trenton Battery Facility will be located in Gilchrist County, and the Cape San Blas Battery Facility and Jennings Battery Facility, with 6 MW each, will be in Gulf County and Hamilton County, respectively. All three projects are slated for completion in the end of 2020.More: Plant retirements offset nearly 90% of US capacity additions in June Power plant retirements offset nearly 90% of U.S. capacity additions in Junelast_img read more

Saudi Aramco’s IPO raises important questions for investorsSaudi Aramco’s IPO raises important questions for investors

first_imgSaudi Aramco’s IPO raises important questions for investors FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Barron’s:Saudi Aramco, the state-controlled oil company, looks appealing based on its enormous reserves and high free-cash flow, but it has a royalty arrangement with the Saudi government that could limit the upside potential for investors in a coming initial public offering.The company is reportedly aiming for a valuation of $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion when it sells a small stake of less than 5% publicly next month and lists its shares on the Saudi Arabian exchange known as the Tadawul.Saudi Aramco has proved reserves of 226.8 billion barrels of liquids reserves, including crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs), according to an offering document released on Sunday ahead of the full prospectus on Nov. 9.The Saudi reserves greatly exceed that of ExxonMobil (XOM), the largest investor-owned energy company in the world, which ended 2018 with 24.3 billion barrels of reserves. The ExxonMobil reserves include natural gas in addition to liquids. Saudi Aramco also has 186 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.Saudi Aramco reserve life is 52 years, against 17 years at ExxonMobil. Its crude reserves are about five times that of the combined oil reserves of the five largest international energy companies.Saudi Aramco produced 13.6 million barrels of oil equivalent a day last year including 10.3 million barrels of crude. Exxon’s production is around 4 million barrels a day. Saudi Aramco has produced one in eight of world’s crude output from 2016 and 2018. The Saudi oil giant had net income of $68 billion in the first nine months of 2019 against $8.7 billion for Exxon.The combined value of Exxon, Chevron (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS/A), BP (BP) and Total (TOT) is just over $1 trillion.Saudi Aramco plans to pay a dividend of at least $75 billion in 2020. At a $1.5 trillion market value, the yield would be 5% and at $2 trillion, the yield would be 3.75%. There are 200 billion shares outstanding.At $1.5 trillion, Saudi Aramco would be valued at about 17 times the company’s 2019 earnings, based on the net income of $68 billion so far this year. That would be a discount to Chevron and Exxon, and a premium to Royal Dutch Shell.Investors likely will reward the company for its ultralong reserve life but could penalize it for the royalty arrangement, political risk and governance issues.More: Saudi Aramco’s IPO Is Coming, Here’s What Investors Need to Knowlast_img read more

Rystad oil industry analysis shows only Norway’s Equinor is backing up renewable talk with real dollarsRystad oil industry analysis shows only Norway’s Equinor is backing up renewable talk with real dollars

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Natural Gas Intelligence:Over the next five years, the world’s oil majors are expected to invest up to $17.5 billion into solar and wind energy projects, a Rystad Energy analysis projected.More than half of the total investments could come from the Norwegian state-controlled energy giant Equinor. Analysis from Rystad shows that 57% of total projected investments, or $10 billion, is to be invested by Equinor, the only investor whose majority of greenfield capital expenditures (capex) will go towards renewable energy. Among oil majors, Equinor will lead the way in renewable investments, spending $6.5 billion over the next three years alone to build its capital-intensive offshore wind portfolio.After Equinor, the runner-up is Portuguese natural gas distributor Galp, directing just under a quarter of its greenfield expenditure to green initiatives.The $17.5 billion figure compares to $166 billion expected to be spent on greenfield oil and gas projects, the Rystad team said.With the notable exceptions of Equinor and Galp, the investments in renewables by the other oil giants will not even match the typical capex requirements of a single oil and gas field in their respective portfolios.“Recent suggestions of ‘resilient green strategies’ or ‘business as usual’ simply do not carry much weight, with the exception of Equinor,” said Gero Farruggio, Rystad’s Product Manager for Renewables. “Not until later in the decade do we see an increase in renewable spending from other companies.”[Morgan Evans]More: Equinor dominates in renewable investments while other oil majors face capex cuts Rystad oil industry analysis shows only Norway’s Equinor is backing up renewable talk with real dollarslast_img read more

Honor RollHonor Roll

first_imgThe best outdoor schools in the Blue RidgeSome people will tell you that college is a time to buckle down, get serious, and focus solely on your studies. Don’t listen to them.There is no greater enabler for excellence in academia than balance. The ability to do what you love in the outdoors, hit the books, and spend time with good people in the same day is the recipe for a happy and fulfilling university career. Have you ever had the pleasure of welcoming the first rays of sunlight on your favorite mountain bike trail before class? Or walked out of your last exam of December finals and headed straight to the slopes for an evening of soulful shredding? Or felt the fuzzy afterglow of adrenaline in calculus after a blitz of the local class IV creek? Exertion in nature also gives us a fulfillment that turbocharges our creativity and energy in the academic realm.The adage “work hard and play hard” could not be more appropriate for college years.Fortunately for us, the Blue Ridge is rife with exceptional educational institutions with world-class recreation at their doorstep. If you’re looking to couple a great education with close-to-home, world-class outdoor recreation, here are the best schools for every sport.whitewater paddlingUniversity of North Carolina at AshevilleLocation: Asheville, N.C.Student Body: 3,700Educational Focus: Liberal ArtsTuition: In-State $5393, Out-of-State $19,025Notable Alums: Becky Weiss, Leland Davis, Pat Keller, Tom Visnius, Willow KoerberUNCA and the city of Asheville are steeped in whitewater culture more than anywhere else in the world.  The host region of the legendary Green River Narrows Race and a myriad of other kayaking-related events, Asheville is an ideal location for the aspiring steep creek paddler.Chris Bell, economics professor at UNCA and long-time paddler, says that the school is special because of the small class size and breadth of education that comes with being one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation. “UNCA is a place where you are going to develop personal relationships with your professors and interact directly with them, rather than TAs,” Professor Bell says. “There is a deep paddling heritage at UNCA, and the rivers and community are an excellent enabler to take your paddling to the next level.”Aside from their long list of first descents and race wins, UNCA alums and professors also give back to the paddling community. Professor Bell runs the community information site BoatingBeta, and alum Kevin Colburn is executive director of American Whitewater. Intermediate paddlers can participate in weekly roll sessions on campus all winter, as well as guided river trips with the UNCA Outdoors Program during spring and fall.UNCA is lauded for its sciences, with the atmospheric sciences, health and wellness promotion, and environmental studies being some of the top programs at the school. Some of its atmospheric science professors are members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the Nobel Prize in 2007.Hit ListThe Ledges of the French Broad, an excellent class II training ground, is only 10 minutes down the street.  From campus, it is 35 minutes to the Green River Narrows, and a 1.5 hour radius brings you to the entire gamut of paddling: Nantahala, Nolichucky, Big Creek, Rocky Broad, Wilson’s Creek, Raven Fork, Toxaway, Horsepasture, and U.S. National Whitewater Center.HONORABLE MENTIONS: With an alumni list that includes kayak and standup paddleboard icons, Virginia Tech allows the perfect combination of spectacular whitewater and strong academics to create outdoors leaders.Eastern Tennessee State University, based in Johnson City, has excellent health sciences and medical academics and a primo location to enable year-round paddling.runningUniversity of VirginiaLocation: Charlottesville, Va.Student Body: Undergraduate 14,591, Graduate 6,515Educational Focus: Business, law, medicine, engineeringTuition: In-State $23,984, Out-of-State $48,988Notable Alums: Edgar Allen Poe, Woodrow Wilson, Robert KennedyFounded by Thomas Jefferson in 1825, the University of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville are steeped in American heritage. UVA is consistently ranked in the top 5 public institutions in the nation, and from an athletic standpoint, it provides a particularly strong foundation to chase your running dreams.The school and the town embrace the sport like few other places in the country, and there is an unlimited variety and quantity of opportunities to push your personal limits. On a collegiate level, the cross country and track athletes are consistently competitive on the national stage. Several UVA athletes placed well in the U.S. Olympic Trials this year in a variety of track events, including the 800 meter and 4×400 relay. Recent UVA rosters have also included ACC champions and All-Americans.The dedicated cross country course at nearby Panorama Farms is an excellent training location. The UVA Center for Endurance Sport, a technique and fitness research facility open to students, has also sent top tier athletes to the Ironman and other elite events worldwide. Running is a way of life in Charlottesville, and the community buy-in is fostered by personalities such as Gill and Francesca Conte, professional runners who host their own local radio program as well as a show on National Geographic.  Throughout the year, there are over 25 community races with a variety of distances and characters.The university itself offers a unique and memorable culture.  The architecture on campus is spectacular, and Jefferson’s work ethic and ethical standards come across in the excellent academics and student-run honor code system.  As a testament to the high level of academics that the school offers, past visitors and speakers include the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, FDR, and Queen Elizabeth II. Hit ListThere are several excellent running trails in town and nearby.  O-Hill and the Rivanna Trail are popular destinations close to campus, and a short trip into the mountains opens up unlimited trail possibilities.  A perfect destination in that regard is the Appalachian Trail in nearby Shenandoah National Forest.HONORABLE MENTIONS Brevard College: This tiny school happens to be in one of the best training zones in the world for running, and Dr. Jack Daniels and other top minds in the sport are noticing.Furman University: As long-time host of the NCAA Southeast Cross Country Championships, and home of the Furman Institute of Running (FIRST), this school is deeply invested in the sport. The spectacular campus, academics and alumni network make it a great choice.NC State: They have dominated track and cross country, developed Olympians, and won national titles.mountain bikingClemson UniversityLocation: Clemson, S.C.Student Body: Undergrad 15,836, Graduate 3,743Educational Focus: EngineeringTuition: In-State $11,524, Out-of-State $27,682While many may dismiss Clemson as a Division I party school, it also takes its fun seriously. Clemson is the best mountain biking university in the Southeast.The trail networks of Issaqueena Forest are a renowned hub for cross country mountain biking, and the university has its own downhill track that is maintained by the Clemson Freeride Club. This trail plays host to one collegiate and one open race per year, and its excellent jumps and wall rides have also attracted the Red Bull Night Shift event in the past. The club has a high-energy atmosphere, and members pitch in to build the many world class features that they share with the community. Club members also participate riding trips to the Trials Training Center in Chattanooga, Snowshoe Mountain, Moab, and other world-class destinations.Hit ListThe aforementioned downhill track is complete with pumptrack, dual slalom course, downhill track, dirt jump set, and trick booter. It is a ten minute drive from campus, so bring your hardtail and all-mountain or DH rig. Urban riding opportunities abound on campus as well, and much of the landscape is sessioned by passionate student riders between class.HONORABLE MENTIONJames Madison University: This Harrisonburg, Va., school has the GW in its backyard and an active club for the beginner and intermediate rider. World-class riders emerge from JMU every year, and local legend Jeremiah Bishop trains nearby.Orienteeringroad cyclingUniversity of GeorgiaLocation: Athens, Ga.Student Body: Undergrad 26,000, Graduate 9,000Educational Focus: Journalism, law, educationTuition: In-State $21,250, Out-of-State  $39,460Notable Alums: Ryan Seacrest, R.E.M., Terrell DavisCycling has deep roots in Athens, with the UGA Cycling Club flourishing as a student resource since 1988. Soon after its inception, riders from the school attended the first collegiate nationals in 1989. Leading cycling manufacturer Specialized quickly saw the value in the club, and remains one of its largest sponsors.The town itself has great pride in its cycling culture. The BikeAthens nonprofit has advocated successfully for bike lanes on all major thoroughfares, and the moderate winters allow for pleasant riding and training throughout the winter. is the hub for area group rides, and the lack of major highways near the town mean that endless miles of scenic country roads are available in any direction. Aside from the many races that occur in Athens itself, students have quick access to Atlanta events as well.Runners-UpUniversity of the South: This private college located on the Cumberland Plateau provides a perfect base to access some of the finest road riding in Tennessee.Studying at outdoor schoolhikingWest Virginia UniversityLocation: Morgantown, W.Va.Student Body: 22,711Educational Focus: Engineering, neurosciences, forensicsTuition: In-State $5,674, Out-of-State $17,844Morgantown is an oasis of outdoor adventure.  Farmers markets and organic farms abound, and the hiking and backpacking opportunities nearby are unparalleled.The trail options start right in town. The Monongahela River flows adjacent to campus, and the Caperton Trail allows for 10 miles of running, hiking or biking along the river.  The Mon & Deckers Trail is also an excellent option for petroleum free hiking. It extends out from town for 29 miles and offers up great scenery and fewer people the farther you go. Coopers Rock State Forest is also a popular spot for school trips, with 50 miles of trails, old-growth forests, and spectacular rock overlooks of the Cheat River.The school itself is an academic powerhouse, having produced 25 Rhodes Scholars.  WVU is affiliated with the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, which is dedicated to studying Alzheimer’s and other diseases that affect the brain. Forensics and Investigative Study is also a leading program, and a partnership is forged with the FBI in biometrics research.Hit ListWhether camping in Red Creek Valley or enjoying the views from Bear Rocks, Dolly Sods Wilderness is a great place to get away from it all. Check out the Breathed Mountain Loop, a 16.2 mile overnighter that will make you feel like you’ve been transplanted to Northern Canada.  Also explore the various sections of the Otter Creek Trail network an hour from town.HONORABLE MENTIONSBerry College: This Georgia liberal arts institution has the largest contiguous college campus in the world. Much of this, including Lavender Mountain, and the Cohutta Wilderness is within striking distance.Emory & Henry: Strong liberal arts academics and a hiking-centric culture close to the A.T. make E&H a backpacker’s dream school.climbingUniversity of Tennessee ChattanoogaLocation: Chattanooga, TNStudent Body: 9,891Educational Focus: Business, engineering, nursing, psychologyTuition: In-State $5,398, Out-of-State $18,932UT Chattanooga has a vibrant metropolitan campus in a city that is flanked on all sides by Tennessee’s signature sandstone mountains.  The area has been quickly rising to prominence as an epicenter for adventure sports, and its proudest asset is certainly the climbing.The University recently constructed a 44-foot indoor climbing wall on campus in the Aquatic and Recreation Center, which served as a catalyst for a school climbing club and the Chatt Nasty competitive climbing team. Just outside of campus are many world-class climbing destinations. Foster Falls is regarded as one of the best sport climbing areas for experienced climbers, and some of the routes dip into the elite 5.14 realm.  Walnut Wall is also an excellent jump-off point for beginners and intermediates, allowing a smooth progression into the sport.The university itself has a wide range of programs, with much of the focus being placed on its nationally ranked business school.  The city is an outdoors hub, and its social focus is the waterfront area along the Tennessee River.  It’s immediately apparent when looking out at the SUP boarders and kayakers that Chattanooga residents love being outside.Hit ListTennessee Wall is an excellent trad location whose south-facing wall is nice and warm in the wintertime. Suck Creek, Sunset, and Three Star round out the trad portfolio, and the Obed is an excellent sport climbing destination a bit farther away. One added bonus: deep water soloing on several walls on the Tennessee.HONORABLE MENTIONVirginia Commonwealth University: An on-campus climbing wall and other outdoor options within Richmond city limits make this school an urban outdoors classic.NCSU kayakingskiing / snowboardingAppalachian State UniversityLocation: Boone, NCContact: appstate.eduStudent Body: Undergrad 15,460, Graduate 3,400Educational Focus: Business, educationTuition: In-State  $6,288, Out-of-State $15,201At over 3,300 feet of elevation, Boone and the surrounding High Country of North Carolina towers over much of the state.  The school itself is a combination of a small liberal arts school and large research university. From an educational perspective, the Walker College of Business is one of the focal points of the University.  With both undergraduate and MBA programs, the business focus is on entrepreneurship.Snow sports are App State’s specialty.  With three resorts within a 40 minute drive of campus, students have an unlimited supply of the slopes for before, after and sometimes during class.  Beech and Sugar Mountains are popular resorts in nearby Banner Elk with excellent conditions, and Appalachian Mountain is the local favorite, with many student specials and nighttime ski options.The Appalachian State Ski And Snowboard Teams are dominant forces in the Southeast Conference and at nationals. The two teams compete in a variety of events including Giant Slalom, Boarder Cross and Super-Pipe.Hit ListBeech and Sugar are 40 minutes away, and Appalachian Mountain is 10 minutes away.  The region also has excellent mountain biking and kayaking options.  The App State Mountain Bike Team competes strongly throughout the conference, and the paddling community centers around the nearby Watauga, Elk, and Doe Rivers.HONORABLE MENTIONLiberty University: This private Christian school in Lynchburg boasts its own on-campus ski hill and the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre.all-aroundWarren Wilson CollegeLocation: Swannanoa, N.C.Student Body: 896Educational Focus: Environmental science, English, outdoor leadershipTuition: $26,675“We’re not for everyone… but then, maybe you’re not everyone.”  Warren Wilson’s tagline captures the flavor of this off-beat outdoor school. Located in the heart of whitewater country, Warren Wilson paddlers benefit from  the coaching of Olympian Lecky Haller.  Warren Wilson’s bike team is also extremely strong.  Coached by professional Cannondale Factory Rider Cassandra Perkins, the fully supported Varsity Team consists of 27 passionate students.  These athletes compete across the gamut of the sport, including cross country, short track, dual slalom, and downhill disciplines.  The school also has a gorgeous trail network that extends from campus up and down the Swannanoa River, and there are four ski resorts within an hour and 20 minutes of campus.Not only are the recreational opportunities top-notch, but the culture of the school fosters a petroleum-free and sustainable lifestyle. Ninety percent of students live on campus, and a large percentage of them do not have vehicles. Bikes are a way of life at the school, and this mentality is augmented by other environmental initiatives, including the option to live in the Ecodorm. This is the nation’s first college dorm to be certified as LEED Platinum, and hosts an active permaculture garden, composting toilets, and a train car buried in the front yard to collect rainwater.In order to graduate, students must complete 15 hours of weekly service on campus and 100 additional hours of community service. Students work in organic gardens, build and maintain trails, and help protect the forests and mountains that surround the school.Hit ListWithin 15 minutes of campus are the excellent Kitsuma and Heartbreak Ridge trails that make perfect dawn patrol riding destinations for before class. Beech, Sugar, Wolf Laurel, and Cataloochee ski hills are all close by for an evening snow session, and the Bent Creek trail network and Pisgah National Forest provide an unlimited supply of trails for running and hiking.HONORABLE MENTIONSVirginia Tech: Tech proudly takes a mention here, after being so close in contention for the top spot in every other sport category. A strong engineering program rounds out its many surrounding outdoors assets.Lees McRae:  This small school has everything that any outdoors athlete could want: two ski hills within minutes, highly competitive road and mountain biking teams, accessible whitewater, and unending trails for running and hiking. •outdoor high schoolsThe benefits of outdoor education aren’t just reserved for college students. Across the country, outdoor programs for interested middle-and high-schoolers are tapping into a wilder way of learning.The Blue Ridge School in Charlottesville, Va., a boarding school for boys in grades 9 through 12, offers electives in everything from Wilderness First Aid to a class on the history of the Appalachian Mountains. The program incorporates both hands-on and theoretical approaches. The mountain biking team builds and maintains their own trails. Students learning about back-country expeditions not only backpack, but develop course materials for future classes.The Miller School of Albemarle, also in Charlottesville, Va., offers world-class cycling and mountain biking to its students. The endurance team, coached by champion racer Peter Hufnagel, is one of the most competitive high school cycling squads in the country. The Miller School also fields an elite mountain biking team and recently hosted the Virginia State Mountain Bike Championships. Students at The Miller School participate in a variety of outdoor service activities, clubs, including rides with Horses as Healers and gardening with Charlottesville’s Parks and Recreation.Evergreen Community Charter School, part of the public school system in Asheville, N.C., embodies the values of outdoor and experiential learning. Students participate in building permaculture gardens and instructors use the natural world in every lesson. Students from kindergarten through eighth grade are challenged by “expeditionary learning,” an educational plan developed from Outward Bound in which core curriculums are weaved into real-time adventures undertaken by the students with faculty supervision.The Arthur Morgan School is a progressive boarding school in the Celo community of North Carolina, where seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students are trained in Quaker values and Montessori philosophy. Students sing together each morning and participate in communal meetings to decide school policy. Students learn through hands-on experience, taking on the maintenance of school buildings and farms—and in adventures farther afield, during annual 18-day service trips structured around one educational theme.The French Broad River Academy, also in Asheville N.C., is a private middle school for boys only. They’ve structured their curriculum around the river flowing past the school—The French Broad. Students engage with the river on every level—from practical field classes on conservation and navigation, to studying the history and literature of the ancient river to engaging with the complex civic life generated by  the French Broad.The Lovett School of Atlanta, Georgia is another private school that has dedicated itself to providing students with experiential learning opportunities. Service trips for freshmen in the Atlanta area include helping a local organization connect the homeless with farm-fresh produce. A rafting trip for sophomores emphasizes conservation and ecology, and as juniors, Lovett students band together for a four-night, five-day backpacking and mountain climbing trip in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina.At The Outdoor Academy in Brevard, N.C., sophomores from around the country walk up the mountain ridge that surrounds the school and silently greet the sunrise together. There’s a natural emphasis on nearly every aspect of school life—in math class, students might work on building a solar oven or sewing a quilt, then study Annie Dillard and Wendell Berry in a literature class, and end the day collecting firewood and harvesting vegetables.The Sheridan School Mountain Campus in Luray, Va., where students who study at Sheridan’s City Campus in Washington, D.C., immerse themselves in a natural learning environment. Ensconced in the Shenandoah National Forest, the Mountain Campus provides a chance for students in grades K-8 to put the Sheridan’s schools “Challenge by Choice” philosophy into practice, deciding for themselves how much to particpate in the adventure of rustic living and outdoor skills—including kayaking, backpacking, environmental education, and outdoor leadership.Read about one man’s experiences at Seneca Rocks Climbing School!last_img read more

A Tail of Two Teresas: Dogs that Save LivesA Tail of Two Teresas: Dogs that Save Lives

first_imgLet’s be honest. Dogs are more than just pets. They’re man’s best friend, trail partner, vacuum cleaner, and little spoon (or maybe big spoon) all wrapped up in one. In the world of search and rescue (SAR), though, canine companions have proven themselves much more than that. They’re workers, the unsung heroes of emergency services, perusing the woods in the dead of night to search for our missing loved ones. It takes a special type of dog to ignore a fleeing deer or a pile of garbage and stay on task, but it also takes a special person to be that canine’s partner. SAR dog handlers are the folks behind the scenes who willingly volunteer hundreds of hours and invest thousands of dollars for the sake of communities in need. By their canine’s side day and night, these handlers endure the elements and brave the hazards so we may have some ease of mind. Meet Teresa and Teresa, two handlers in the Blue Ridge who share more than just a name and a love of dogs.A Walk in the WoodsIt was the summer of 2007. Teresa Cummings was busy wrapping up the evening chores on her property in Oxford, N.C., when she realized something was terribly wrong: her 23-month-old son Connor was missing. Cummings ran through the woods near her house, frantically searching for Connor to no avail. Soon, emergency personnel and nearby community members were gathered at the Cummings residence, determined to find the toddler. By now, Cummings had realized that something else was wrong: the family golden retriever Sandy had also mysteriously disappeared. Hours went by and the evening had long turned dark on the search party. Still, neither Connor nor Sandy had been found. Cummings’ anxiety began to worsen with every passing minute, fearful of the worst.teresa cummings with her dog sandy, who rescued her lost four-year-old son .Teresa Cummings with her dog Sandy, who rescued her lost four-year-old son .The next day, nearly 250 volunteers came together to again search the woods, on foot, by horseback, and even aboard all-terrain vehicles. All eyes were on Granville County as the community meticulously searched every square inch of forest. Finally, after more than 24 hours had passed since the boy’s initial disappearance, a member of the search party heard a bark. He found both Connor and Sandy only a mile from the Cummings’ home, happy and healthy. Connor was barefoot and had a few cuts and bruises, but aside from that he was virtually unscathed and entirely oblivious to the massive toddlerhunt that had taken place.“God made angels,” Cummings says, “ours just happens to have four legs and wags a tail.”The pair had crossed countless creeks and major highways, managing to slide past the radar of the hundreds involved with the search and rescue efforts. According to Cummings, Sandy was never the type of dog to exhibit any particularly strong sense of loyalty to Connor—or anyone in the family for that matter. Mellow, quiet, and borderline lazy, Sandy was “an unlikely candidate at best” for acting so heroically, says Cummings.“The one time she needed to do something, she did it,” Cummings says. “She could have filet mignons every day for the rest of her life and I’d be okay with it.”Inspired by Sandy and the events that had unfolded, Cummings purchased a bloodhound just a couple months later and began training with the National Association of Search and Rescue (NASR). Having had a number of years’ experience training show dogs, Cummings was no stranger to the process. What did surprise her, though, was the vast array of skills she would need to acquire before becoming certified. From rigorous wilderness medical training to certifications in handling blood-borne pathogens, hazardous materials, and canine first aid, Cummings has devoted hundreds of hours (and personal dollars) into ensuring she can provide the best service to her community.“When Connor disappeared, we found that there were limited resources of who we could call to help,” Cummings recalls. “I remember walking out in those woods thinking, if I can keep one family from ever going through this, I’ll be content.”Cummings has since had a second child and trained a number of other SAR dogs, but she says that Sandy is still around and one of the best dogs the family has ever had.“She’s a little fat now, but she’s totally the babysitter and is always somewhere she can keep an eye on things.”Sandy FactsAge 10Breed Golden RetrieverFavorite treat RawhidesBest trait ToleranceWeakness Anything and everything that looks edibleA Family ReunitedTeresa MacPherson has grown up around dogs her whole life, working specifically with SAR units since the late 1980s. As a team member of FEMA’s disaster dog program and a handler for the Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Association, MacPherson has seen it all, including missing children, wandering Alzheimer’s patients, and bombing victims.“It’s a difficult line of work,” MacPherson says, “but I love it because it helps people.”MacPherson has been at the forefront of aid provided by SAR dogs, traveling across the world to help others in need. She and her K-9 partners have been on hand to help at some of the most devastating disasters to date, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina; the Haiti earthquake in 2008, and the 2011 tsunami in Japan. She’s seen lives ravaged, cities completely leveled, and communities torn apart, yet she takes solace in knowing that, little by little, she and her K-9s can help mend these broken areas.“Closure is such a terribly overused term,” MacPherson says, “but it’s still good to know you can provide some sense of that to these families. The hardest part is obviously when the outcome isn’t positive.”Despite having worked in a variety of challenging and dismal circumstances for over 20 years, MacPherson recalls one instance in her hometown of Bristow, Va., where she truly grasped just how important her dogs and her line of work were to the community at large.It was an unbearably hot evening in late August of 2002. MacPherson had received a phone call from the local law enforcement notifying her of a family who was worried about their 85-year-old grandmother. The grandmother, who was battling Alzheimer’s, had disappeared earlier that day. MacPherson readied her SAR dog, Georgia, and headed to the nearby Prince William Forest Park. It was already past 9 o’clock at night, and MacPherson knew the law enforcement officers had already been searching for the grandmother all day with no success. She followed Georgia’s lead, though, and within 20 minutes, she heard a bark from deep within the woods.“I came upon the grandmother who had tripped over a log and was lying, half naked and dehydrated, on the ground,” MacPherson says.Teresa Macpherson and Georgia rescued a lost 85-year-old woman in virginia.Teresa Macpherson and dog Georgia rescued a lost 85-year-old woman in Virginia.Despite having collapsed from heat exhaustion and dehydration, the grandmother was alive. Had Georgia not found the woman, the family’s grandmother would not have made it through the night.“When I saw the relief in the family’s eyes as we returned from the woods, I knew that they were probably expecting the worse,” MacPherson says. “When we can help save a life, it’s very rewarding. That’s absolutely why it’s my passion.”Georgia was MacPherson’s right-hand dog for a number of years, but passed away recently. MacPherson is now on her sixth operational SAR dog, but she says it’s hard to move on after the loss of such a close partner.“Dogs’ eyes are full of love and trust,” she says. “It’s hard when you lose a dog, because you know it’s inevitable. It’s the nature of this line of work. When you form such an amazing bond with these dogs, seeing them go is like losing family.” Georgia FactsBreed LabradorAge 13Favorite toy Tennis ballBest trait Born to searchWeakness Surfing, a favorite pastime that involved leaping from the banks of a river to land gracefully on a floating raft and riding out the wake.last_img read more

Weekend Picks: Amphibious Duathlon, Charlotte N.C.Weekend Picks: Amphibious Duathlon, Charlotte N.C.

first_imgThis weekend we have a great race for you to check out. The Amphibious Duathlon in Charlotte, N.C. consists of two 5k trail runs bookending a 2k flatwater paddle around Sadler Island in the Catawba River. In the past it’s been one of our favorite events, and this year promises to be no different.Unfortunately race spots for Saturday August 2nd are all taken, but you can still sign up for the race on August 3rd here. If you’d rather just wing it, Race Day Registration starts at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 7:45, and the race begins at 8:00 a.m. sharp, so be ready for an early start.Logistics:Registration on Race Day is $50, which is a pretty good deal considering you’re essentially getting 3 races for what one would cost you. It’d be a good idea to bring some extra cash for food and drinks after the race.Sit on top Kayaks are provided for everyone who enters the race, but you’re more than welcome to bring your own. Just be aware you’ll need to transport and secure whatever water craft you bring. If you’re feeling creative you can even enter the Build Your Own Boat Festival and get some cool prizes.The race organizers don’t want you bringing music or headphones for safety purposes, but you’re more than welcome to use handsfree gear or a CamelBak if you’d like.Volunteering:If you’re going with a loved one, or you’re just looking for something to do, why not volunteer? You can contact the Race Director at [email protected] Amphibious Duathalon is part of the Coca Cola GET ACTIVE CHALLENGE which you can read more about here.2014_AmphibiousDuathlon_CourseMap.jpglast_img read more

Along the Crooked RoadAlong the Crooked Road

first_imgAnd it really is crooked, that western portion of Virginia’s US Route 58, tightly weaving through the mountains and hollows of Grayson County and on west through Washington and Scott. The modern road obviously follows Indian paths and the wagon roads of early settlers; modern road engineers still unable to easily move mountains.About ten years ago some smart folk with a passion for the region and its musical heritage, not to mention a flair for tourism promotion, realized that spread loosely along the path of Rt. 58 in southwest Virginia lie some of the region’s -and America’s- most important points of musical history and interest. In those mountain hollows and on the ridge tops of Virginia’s Appalachia are found some of the deepest roots of American country music. Whether blue grass, old time, or country, much of its origins can be traced back to the region. From the original homelands of its 18th-century immigrants -England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Germany for instance, combined with the rough living conditions and raw beauty of their new home places came the drive the early settlers felt to make their unique, soulful sounds. The music they created was unlike anything else the world had ever known before. It strikes us now, as then, as emotive and evocative at its core.Bristol’s State Street is unique. It straddles the border between Virginia and Tennessee. I would think that there would be distinct advantages one way or another in terms of business location, but there seems to be equal representation of going concerns on each side of the street. We’re exploring the town, peering in shop windows and wandering. There’s a delightful variety of business on State, from dusty old junk shops to a paddleboard emporium tended by a friendly smiling woman with spiked hair. And then there’s the Burger Barn, a decades-old institution that serves up Americana-on-a-bun like nobody else. Our real objective in visiting Bristol, however, is to visit the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, a recently-added jewel along the Crooked Road.The museum is all about what has come to be known as the Bristol Sessions, breakthrough music recordings made in 1927. Also known as the “Big Bang” of country music, the Bristol Session recordings were made by a Victor Talking Machine Company scout over a 10-day period and featured 19 different acts performing 76 songs. Besides the stunning nature of the music itself, a combination of technological advancements were responsible for the success of this Big Bang, such as the recent availability of gramophone record players and the resultant demand for music recordings. And state-of-the-art 1927 microphone technology greatly expanded the potential horizons of the Bristol Sessions. The recordings of seminal acts such as the Carter family -AP, Sara, and Maybelle- Jimmie Rogers, Earnest Stoneman and others brought “country” music to the forefront of the American music business and profoundly affected its direction. The core, elemental sound of the vocals and guitar, fiddle, banjo, autoharp, and mandolin was thus brought out of the “hollers” and into homes from California to New York.And the Birthplace of Country Music Museum covers the whole story.Hiltons, twenty miles west of Bristol along the Crooked Road route, is home to the Carter Family Fold. Really it’s more than that; some call it the center of the country music universe. But it’s modest; don’t expect Dollywood. The town of Hiltons is tiny and unremarkable, and A.P. Carter’s store is as it was sixty years ago. It’s situated in a quiet valley, and a cool breeze flowed from the mountain backdrop on the fall evening that we visited. We filed into the rustic performance hall adjacent to the old store with other visiting pilgrims. Barn doors open up the sides of the hall and let in the night air and the sounds of crickets and cicadas. Until, that is, those sounds are replaced by the rhythm and scratch and sometimes-haunting vocals of the visiting bands. The night we visited, luthier -guitar maker- and performer Wayne Henderson and Friends were the headlining act. The place came alive with the music, not only the flat footers iryresistibly drawn to the sound as well as the foot-tapping audience, but the old building itself, the timbers resonating with the spirit and soul of it.There are lots of other things to see and do along the Crooked Road, places associated with names like Bill Monroe and brothers Ralph and Carter Stanley, towns steeped in character like Galax and Floyd. But there that night at the Carter Family Fold our cup was running over and -for the time being- our traditional music thirst was quenched. We soaked in the sounds and sights and feel of the place, not just the music Wayne and his friends brought to the hallowed place but the lingering essence of all that had come before.After all, the Crooked Road leads not just west into quaint towns tightly nestled in shady hollows; it’ll take you on a musical journey back in time.last_img read more

Trail Mix | Dan LayusTrail Mix | Dan Layus

first_imgFor more than a decade, Dan Layus toured America as the front man for SoCal roots rock outfit Augustana.With Augustana, Layus released five records and an EP, lighting up charts with the buzzworthy hit “Boston” and hitting the road with the likes of Dashboard Confessional, Counting Crows, and The Fray.Layus shed his roots rock skin upon moving to Nashville in 2013. Long interested in traditional country sounds, those inspirations blossomed after Layus arrived in the cradle of country music. Dangerous Things, which released last week and features guest vocals by The Secret Sisters, is Layus’s first solo record after retiring the band name Augustana and recording/touring under his own. Dangerous Things proves positively that the sound works for Layus.I recently caught up with Dan Layus to chat about the new record, the move to Nashville, and the one thing that could have derailed it all.BRO – I know you are proud of your work with Augustana, but it has to be pretty awesome to see “Dan Layus” printed across the cover of this new record.DL – I absolutely feel very excited about seeing where this journey has taken myself and family over the years. This record feels very special to me and those around me for a multitude of reasons, and I am so happy with where I am right now.BRO – How did moving to Nashville affect you as a songwriter?DL – Nashville had a profound and immediate effect on my writing. The scene change from Los Angeles alone was enough to promote some new energy within me, but on top of that, the music community and the very musical nature of this is town is impossible to ignore. Tennessee as a state, and Nashville as a city, have a deep and palpable respect and love for music and musicians. When you get here, it gets into you. It’s a hard thing to explain but so easy to feel.BRO – We are featuring “Driveway,” a sadly beautiful song, on this month’s Trail Mix. Best advice on how to get out of, or avoid altogether, the driveway?DL – I really can’t provide any advice on that. I am very confident that nobody ever truly arrives in total in a relationship. In my experience, true love and deep relationships with true consequences seem to be an evolution or a dance that is in constant motion. I think everyone, including myself, is just trying their best to hold onto who they love as long as they get to love them. The right answers in this area seem to be elusive and/or subjective.BRO – You’ve been on tour with Dixie Chicks over in Europe. Best meal you had over there?DL – I was so fortunate to be invited to support that tour. I learned so much from watching their shows in Europe. My favorite restaurant was a find in Dublin, a place called Monty’s of Kathmandu. It’s a Nepalese restaurant and it’s absolutely wonderful.BRO – Considering your evolution from Augustana to solo performer, what was the most dangerous thing, that one thing, that could have hampered the whole journey?DL – Oh, continuing to drink alcohol the way I used to drink was ruining me and I most certainly would have thrown myself down the hole for good. I’m very proud of myself for pulling my heart and mind and body out of that place and getting back on my feet and finding myself sober by 26 with a whole lot of love and life ahead of me.Dan Layus will be celebrating the release of Dangerous Things with shows in Texas, Alabama, and Florida over the next week. For more information on Dan, when he will be on stage near you, or how you can get your hands on Dangerous Things, please check out his website.Also, be sure to take a listen to “Driveway” on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more

Mountain Mama: The Beauty in FadingMountain Mama: The Beauty in Fading

first_imgMy son asks a lot about dying these days. Maybe it’s a five-year-old thing, like learning basic addition and how to swim, or maybe it’s because a primal family member has been staring down death for the past year. “Mama bear, are you ever going to die?”Sometimes he tears ups. Sometimes it’s in the exact same tone that he asks me whether unicorns are real or if we can spend travel to the Jurassic period for the weekend.My birthday weekend I felt urgency to ensure his summer contains some good memories by the time he starts kindergarten, that it wasn’t all about working and visiting and saying good-byes.Despite the forecast for thunderstorms, I loaded up our tandem kayak with camping gear. I’d made the reservation for a boat-in campsite at Lake Jocassee for this coveted weekend months ago, carving it out as sacred fun time with my son. We paddled across Lake Jocassee with another mountain mama and her little girl during a break in the clouds, arriving at the campsite on the other side of the lake. As if to welcome us, the clouds opened, rain warm pelting us.We decided to wait until the storm passed to unpack our boats.My son wore rain pants and a persimmon red raincoat. He jumped off a rock and canon-balled into the now milky green lake, beckoning me to join him.I shook my head, telling him that I didn’t want to get my clothes wet“But mama, they already are,” he said.It was logic I couldn’t refute, so I jumped in after him. Laughing more than I had in the entire past month. It rained harder. We swam and dove, splashing each other and floating on our backs.It was the most fun I could remember having until we got cold. We were wearing the warmest layers we had. That’s when it set in that the rain wasn’t stopping. The campsites were flooded, and the gravel pads where we were supposed to set up our tents were one big puddle. Our tarp was useless against the day-long onslaught of rain.So later that night when other campers offered us a ride to the other side of the lake in their motorboat, we jumped on it. We left our kayak and canoe, still full of our camping gear, and sped across the lake at midnight just as the rain was letting up.The next day, refreshed after a night’s sleep at my house, we returned. Late that afternoon the rain returned and I second-guessed my decision. Then the sky cleared.My son and I sat near the lake, inhaling the clean scent the rain leaves behind, somehow metallic and earthy all at once. The fog lifted, revealing the sun that had been there all along, just out of sight behind the clouds.The lake was quiet, the kind of stillness required to take in the beauty of a whole life, and I thought about what I knew about my dad’s childhood. For a minute I stopped resisting the thought that lurked just outside my every thought. My dad was dying.I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could. I also wanted to provide my son with normalcy, and ground myself in a successful work life. To do all the things, and be all the versions of myself that were possible and felt guilty the times and ways I hadn’t showed up. It was an impossible desire of course.In that moment on the bank of the lake I stopped being anyone at all, I just sit and watch the setting sun.He piled crystals he found and then leaves and twigs. “Mama, for your birthday I’m giving you your favorite thing. Nature!” He beamed at me.It’s the only gift I received that weekend, because I didn’t tell anyone it was my birthday. Part of me secretly hoped that if I didn’t recognize my birthday. I’d stay forty-two, my son would stay a five-years old, and my dad would stay dying, but at least not dead.“Mama, do you like your gift?” My little boy pressed a rock into my palm.I grabbed him into a hug. “It’s the perfect gift.”I wanted to take it home, to hold on to it, but leaves don’t travel well and the rocks belonged to the land. There was no holding on to any of it, my son’s pile of nature heaped at my feet, his five year old self, me being forty-two, or my dad’s mortality. There was only letting go.That night my son and I camped alone, and I woke up to my forty-third birthday in a dry tent on a sunny day. We I paddled to waterfalls, slid down rocks, and ate marshmallows smothered in peanut butter until our bellies ached.As we paddled back, I reflected on the weekend, how I’d always remember swimming in the rain fully clothed and getting a boat ride on a moonless night. I watched my paddle drip, creating patterns onto the lake’s surface and felt gratitude for last night’s sunset, for it’s lesson that there was beauty everything, even in fading and letting go.last_img read more