Fall 2017 School Youth Ecological Literacy Programming

What an exciting fall for GARNA’s Youth Ecological Literacy Program! We doubled our number of field trips this fall, meaning we reached twice the amount of students with curiosity inducing and learning packed days of environmental education in outdoor classrooms. We are so thankful to our land agency partners such as the US Forest Service, BLM and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, program partners Get Outdoors Leadville!, the Alpine Achievers Initiative, Society of American Foresters, and Trout Unlimited and awesome GARNA volunteers for helping us produce meaningful learning for so many students.

The goal of GARNA’s Youth Ecological Literacy Program, YELP, is to foster environmental stewardship and encourage young people to explore careers within the natural resources field. Through our school-based programs, we tailor lessons for each grade level, both to bolster students’ academic knowledge through hands-on experiences and to raise the next generation of youth to appreciate the uniqueness of our environment and be better stewards of our public lands.

Forestry Field Work – Lake County Intermediate School (Leadville) 7th and 8th Grade Fieldtrip – August 29

This is our first year partnering with Lake County Intermediate School through the Get Outdoors Colorado’s (GOCO) new initiative, Get Outdoors Leadville! (GOL!). We worked with 7th and 8th grade science teacher, Molly Hokkanen, to plan a day of Forestry Skills and hands on learning at Twin Lakes.

During this field day, students rotated through the following stations:

  • Hydrology: Glaciation, Reservoirs and Forestry
  • Wildlife: Predator/Prey relationships in the forest
  • Tag: Forestry Resources, Endemic Species and Fire
  • Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration: Tree cookies are so delicious
  • Field Techniques: Clinometers, increment borers and DBH, oh my!

Special thanks to Jeni Windorski, Wildlife Biologist, USFS Leadville Ranger District; Liz Hahnenberger, Forestry Technician, Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Office; Alex Rudney, Silviculturist, San Isabel National Forest; Lisa Corvin, Timber Program Lead, San Isabel National Forest; Molly Pitts, Natural Resource Consultant and Society of American Foresters; and Maddie Interdonato and Alex Winch, Alpine Achievers Initiative.

Birds of a Flock – Lake County Intermediate School (Leadville) 3rd Grade Cornerstone Trip – September 6

Students learn about bird adaptations by trying to pick up food with different beak styles. Led by Dominique Naccarato, GARNA staff.

This field trip is another a new GARNA youth program as part of the Get Outdoors Leadville! initiative. Students met at Turquoise Lake to learn all about birds and how the 3rd grade class can become a stronger flock to start off the school year. This day fostering teambuilding while focusing on the special characteristics of birds through stations such as “Bird Beak Buffet” – a look at the adaptations of birds and their beaks, “I Stand Out” – admiring the colors and unique characteristics light has on feathers through the book, The Sky Painter, by Luis Fuertes, and “Leaving the Nest” – learning about birds’ eggs and nests and how birds grow up just like we do.

Big thanks to Emily Latta, Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Field Office; Alihah Trujillo, Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Office; Alex Winch and Kellie Hill, Alpine Achievers Initiative; Becca Katz, program coordinator for Get Outdoors Leadville! for making this a great day of learning and growing new friendships.

Walk together on teams skis is a great way to grow as a flock! Third graders learned team building skills with Alex Winch of Alpine Achievers Initiative.

We would also like to thank the third grade teaching team: Celesta Cairns, Beth Baker Basler, Andi Weigel, Allie Clark, Alan Johnson, Stephanie Gallegos, principal, and all the parent chaperones for assisting with the day!

See this great article about the day from the Leadville Herald Democrat.

Life Zones on Monarch Pass – Longfellow Elementary (Salida) 3rd grade – September 14

Read about this program here.

Arkansas Watershed – Salida Middle School 6th Grade Fall Field Trip – September 21

6th grade students geocache at Mount Ouray State Wildlife Area, using their latitude and longitude coordinates to find hidden eco-trivia questions.

The Salida 6th graders gathered for their 8th annual fall field trip to Mount Ouray State Wildlife Area. The field trip theme was learning about the Arkansas River watershed with stations focused on erosion and the rock cycle, riparian ecology including collecting aquatic invertebrates, fishing and GPS navigation.

A huge thank you to Sean Shepherd, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, District Wildlife Manager; Matthew Coen, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, SWA Manager; Kim Woodruff, District Wildlife Manager, Colorado Parks & Wildlife; Alex Winch and Matt Hill, Alpine Achievers Initiative; Keith Krebs and Eric Heltzel, Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited; and Scarlett Massine, GARNA volunteer.

Learning to use a GPS as a part of their 6th grade field trip is an orienteering skill students improve upon from learning to use compasses in the 3rd grade.

We would also like to thank the 6th grade teaching team: George Mossman, Jean Dyer, Cory Scheffel and Michael Williams.

Public Lands Exploration – Avery Parsons Elementary (Buena Vista) 4th Grade – September 29

Bob Hickey, AHRA Volunteer Naturalist, teaches students what fossils in the area look like and how they were formed.

This is the second year GARNA has hosted the 4th grade class from Buena Vista for a field trip to Ruby Mountain Campground and Browns Canyon National Monument. With the new formation of the Browns Canyon National Monument, this was a special day for students to hike into the monument and see for themselves what makes it a unique place. In addition to the hike, students learned and explored at the following stations: Geology: Fossils and Pre-history of Our Watershed, Watershed Ecology and Orienteering: A Compass Scavenger Hunt.

Avery Parsons 4th graders learn about the Arkansas water shed by building their own erosion models.

Special thanks to Bob Hickey, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Volunteer Naturalist; Janet Blessington, GARNA volunteer; Jeanne Younghaus, Friends of Fourmile, GARNA Volunteer; Linda Skinner and Xavier Balerdi, Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Field Office; Cari Caudill and Alex Winch, Alpine Achievers Initiative.

We would like to thank the 4th grade teaching team: Dave Bott, Heidi Atha, and Heather Griggs. Also, thank you to Bob Meeker for filling in as a group leader and all the other parent chaperones who supported this great day of learning in the outdoors.