Spring 2017 Youth Ecological Literacy Fieldtrips

Salida Middle School 6th Grade Spring Service Field Trip – Thursday, April 27


Mr. Williams and Ms. Dyers 6th grade classes learn about the history of the railroad including the importance of the Monarch Spur from local historian and musician, Jack Chivvis.

The goal of this field trip was to provide students a better understanding of the ecology and history of the Monarch Spur trail, a converted rail to trail, and to allow students to take part in restoring a portion of the trail though an annual service project. The 6th grade Salida Middle School class spent their day learning and serving at hands-on stations along this important trail in Salida on one of the most unique weather days this Spring; we experienced rain, 65-and-sunny, sleet and snow all in the time period the students were outside! The students did a great job and enjoyed the day despite the challenges the weather may have presented.


6th Graders take turns cleaning trash, pulling weeds, and planting native seeds along the trail as a part of their restoration project.

Students learned about native and nonnative species that grow along the trail corridor from Salida Trail Ecological Restoration Project (STERP) director, Buffy Lenth, and completed their own restoration project removing litter, preparing soil, and planting native seed. They also learned more about the ecology of the area through a station exploring the soil in Ditch Creek, participating in a birding scavenger hunt and building models of aquifers to look at underground water sources here in the valley.

Midday, we had the opportunity to hear from two local historians. Jack Chivvis enlightened us about the early days of the railroad in Salida when the Denver and Rio Grande were the lifeline of the community and the Monarch Spur was used to support important mining efforts. Becky Donlan shared information about the lives of the Utes, including navigation signs they used during migration in the valley and seeing examples of the tools they carried with them.

GARNA partners, Lucy Waldo with Upper Arkansas Conservation District and Ronni Vitullo with Guidestone host students at the soil station giving them the opportunity to perform tests for pH and nitrogen and checking for living organisms in soil.

A huge thank you to Becky Donlan, Native American Research & Preservation, Inc., Jack Chivvis, Salida Historian and GARNA volunteer, Liz Hahnenberger, BLM Royal Gorge Field Office, Wes Cochran, GARNA volunteer, Buffy Lenth, Salida Trail Ecological Restoration Project Coordinator with the Central Colorado Conservancy, Rachel Conroy, Boys & Girls Club Chaffee County, Lucy Waldo, Upper Arkansas Conservation District, and Ronni Vitullo, Guidestone Colorado. We couldn’t do it without our great partners and volunteers!

Longfellow Elementary 3rd Grade Spring Service Field Trip – Thursday, May 4

The 3rd grade of Longfellow Elementary gathered at Sands Lake for four environmental education stations designed to engage the senses, hone scientific exploration and encourage stewardship. Enjoying the vista of Mount Shavano and the rushing waters of the Arkansas, students participated in an Art in Nature Station where they used their senses to connect what they saw, heard, and smelled to beauty in nature and what we can learn from it. Students enjoyed quiet time to draw the beauty around them. On the other side of the lake, the US Forest Service led a station on Caring for Public Lands where students watched a fun skit about Leave No Trace principles cleaned up micro-trash that disturbs both wildlife and water quality in Sands Lake and the Arkansas River.


The Mountain Zone Fire Crew give students a chance to try out gear on their engine.


Students collect aquatic invertebrates from the Arkansas River at the Wildlife Station.

Students studied wildlife by dissecting a trout and collecting aquatic invertebrates from the river. They also practiced their fishing skills with a fishing station in the lake. A final station taught about forestry and wildfires.  Students learned about trees from BLM foresters and how the how fires are fought on public lands from the USFS Mountain Zone Fire Crew. Students enjoyed inspecting their gear, the engine, and practiced using the water hose! There was even a surprise visit from Smokey Bear during lunch.


3rd Grade Students learn about Leave No Trace from the Forest Service before spending time cleaning the trails around Sands Lake

Many thanks to: Jen Swacina, US Forest Service, Salida Ranger District,  Claire Powmesamy, Southwest Conservation Corp, Stephanie Shively, US Forest Service, Salida Ranger District, Craig Reeder, US Forest Service, Salida Ranger District, Sean Shepherd, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bryce Hofmann, Bureau of Land Management, Royal Gorge, Linda Erikson – GARNA volunteer, Jody Bol, GARNA Board member, Liz Hahnenberger, Bureau of Land Management, Royal Gorge, Jeremiah Moore, Bureau of Land Management, Royal Gorge, John Markalunas US Forest Service, Salida Ranger District and members of the USFS Mountain Zone Fire Crew.