It was just about a year ago MPA educators Mike McLaughlin and Daniel Burk, faced with the challenges of conducting classes in a COVID environment, came up with, what many thought, was a crazy idea. They brought a beat up, inoperable ’98 Polaris snowmobile into the MPA shop and charged their students with the formidable, if not impossible, task of getting it running again. Who would have guessed that that snowmobile, now running, would be the catalyst for the formation of MPA’s brand new Youth Snowmobiling Program? The program boasts a fleet of 6, newly purchased snowmobiles with students, under the supervision of McLaughlin, Burk and Patrick Riess, responsible for keeping them mechanically fit and functioning. To help kick off the program, McLaughlin and Riess recently led a group of students on a trip to Coleman State Park in upstate New Hampshire. They logged over 50 miles of trail riding on the first day and over 100 miles on day two, including a route that encompassed historic Dixville Notch. Anyone familiar with MPA’s adventure based philosophy knows that an MPA trip isn’t all about fun and games. The snowmobilers were tasked with trip planning (including preparation for sub-zero temperatures), maintenance checks and contingencies. As McLaughlin says, “it was basically a hands-on class in science, engineering, math and geography crammed into a day and a half.” Needless to say, the students returned to campus exhausted, exhilarated and full of life-long memories.
“This is an incredible place to work,” says McLaughlin. “What other school listens, assesses and then acts that quickly on a suggestion?” Adds Riess, “I feel empowered. We recognized an opportunity to expand our teaching curriculum and MPA decision-makers like Jay Marshall were all in. It shows how committed this school is to us and our students.”
Look for more news about the MPA Youth Snowmobile Program outings this winter!