Students will be introduced to the story of how Biltmore Farms, a community development firm located in Western North Carolina, incorporates the Vanderbilt family legacy of natural resource stewardship into strategic land development practices guided by 5 Community-Building Tenets. After researching the assets and needs of their own community, students will propose the best use for a parcel of land with sustainability in mind.
|Author||Grade Level||Content Area|
|Jill Francis||9-12||AP Environmental Science|
From the College Board’s AP Environmental Science Course Framework
Science Practice 7: Environmental Solutions: Propose and justify solutions to
Big Idea 3: Interactions Between Different Species and the Environment (EIN)
- TOPIC 5.10: Impacts of Urbanization
- EIN-2:When humans use natural resources, they alter natural systems.
Big Idea 4: Sustainability (STB)
- TOPIC 5.12: Introduction to Sustainability
- STB-1 Humans can mitigate their impact on land and water resources through sustainable use.
What is the best future use of a former farm in Rutherford County, North
Students explore the Biltmore Farms website to learn how the family transitioned a commercial dairy into a premier community development firm in Western North Carolina.
They view a video of Mr. Jack Cecil, Biltmore Farms President, explaining how, The
Ramble, one of Biltmore Farms’ residential communities, illustrates Biltmore Farms’ 5 Tenets of Community Development.
Finally, students are presented with a 100-acre tract of farmland advertised for corporate development by the Rutherford County Economic Development Commission.
Student teams will present a formal proposal of how the farm land parcel should be used in the future to convince a land developer to pursue the project. Teams will prepare an oral presentation and use the technology tools of their choice to create a visual representation of their land use plan.
The oral presentation will include justification for the proposed use, and take into account environmental impacts and economic trade-offs. Sustainable solutions for mitigating environmental impacts will also be included. The visual representation will show the placement of key components of the plan.
Resources and Materials
- Biltmore Farms website
- The 5 Community-Building Tenets of The Ramble Biltmore Forest. View on YouTube.
- 5 Tenets Haves/Wants/Needs Inventory
- Rutherford Corporate 221 Property Information. View document.
- Claim Evidence Reasoning graphic organizer (document attached)
- iPlan – Mapping the Future simulation (tutorial included on the website}
- Computers and Internet access
Formative and Summative Assessments
Formative Assessment 1
Student teams will complete a Haves/Wants/Needs Inventory based on Biltmore Farms’ 5 Community-Building Tenets for the community surrounding the land parcel.
- Science Practice 7.D: Use data and evidence to support a potential solution.
Formative Assessment 2
Student teams generate an argument for their proposed land use following the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) format.
CLAIM: State how the land parcel should be used.
EVIDENCE: Cite evidence from research to justify the use.
REASONING: Explain how the evidence justifies the proposed use.
- Science Practice 7.E: Make a claim that proposes a solution to an environmental problem in an applied context.
- Science Practice 7.F: Justify a proposed solution, by explaining potential advantages.
Formative Assessment 3
Students will experiment with different land use options using the iPlan website and see the environmental, economic, and societal impacts of their decisions. As part of the simulation, they select environmental and economic indicators to study, change the land use designations of various land plots, and submit their proposals to various stakeholder groups for feedback. Throughout the simulation, they alter the plan based on feedback.
Team members will meet to debrief after completing the simulation individually and compile a team list of the most important environmental and economic trade-offs of their land use plan. Then, they will research practical solutions to mitigate the impacts.
- EIN-2.M: Describe the effects of urbanization on the environment.
- STB-1.A: Explain the concept of sustainability.
Summative Assessment 1
Land Use Proposal : Student teams will prepare a formal proposal for the best use of the Rutherford Corporate 221 property. The proposal will include an oral presentation and a visual representation (2-D annotated map or 3-D model) of the land use plan. Experts in the field will critique the proposals and select the top plan.
- Science Practice 7: Environmental Solutions: Propose and justify solutions to environmental problems
- Big Idea 3: Interactions Between Different Species and the Environment (EIN)
– TOPIC 5.10: Impacts of Urbanization
– EIN-2:When humans use natural resources, they alter natural systems.
- Big Idea 4: Sustainability (STB)
– TOPIC 5.12: Introduction to Sustainability
– STB-1 Humans can mitigate their impact on land and water resources through sustainable use.
This Project-Based Lesson was designed for a year-long AP Environmental Science course with 45 minute periods daily. It was launched during Unit 5: Land and Water Use. At this point in the course, students already had background knowledge of Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Populations, and Earth Systems and Resources.
The project was woven through the remaining units of the course to provide real-world applications of their proposed land use’s impacts on Energy Use, Atmospheric Pollution, Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution, and Global Change with emphasis on Biodiversity Loss. Alternatively, the entire project could be implemented at the conclusion of the course as a review and application of all required concepts.
In addition to providing opportunities for students to propose solutions for a local environmental problem, other goals were to expose students to the natural resources and economic opportunities that exist in their community, and to introduce them to their local leaders like the County Planner and Economic Development Director.
Furthermore, they were encouraged to think critically about the power they possess as citizens to impact the direction of the place where they live.
About the Author
Jill Francis is a life-long resident of Rutherford County located in the foothills of Western North Carolina. She teaches Biology, Honors Biology, AP Biology, and AP Environmental Science with the goal of preparing her students for success in any community, but inspiring them to improve their own.
Francis is a 2021-22 Kenan Fellow. Her fellowship was supported by Meta. Her internship was spent learning about all divisions of Biltmore Farms and seeing firsthand how the company approaches economic development with an emphasis on intentional community building throughout the region.
Francis is grateful for the opportunity to bring real-world connections to her students and share examples of how rural communities can strategically plan for the future they want to see. She would especially like to thank her mentor Carol Steen, the entire Biltmore Farms Executive Team, and Corporate Sponsor Meta for
making her fellowship an impactful experience for herself and her students.