Chugach National Forest’s Women of Wilderness Foster Future Women of Science
SourDough News | March 10, 2014
Girl Scouts drawing their concept of a Wilderness on recycled paper.
Wildlife Biologist Jessica Ilse leads the girl scouts in a bat echolocation exercise.
Where do Girl Scouts get the opportunity to create their own private Wilderness? At this year’s Women of Science and Technology Day, that’s where!
On Saturday, February 1 at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, the Girl Scouts of Alaska sponsored this special day for Girl Scouts from kindergarten through 8th grade. Dozens of women who work with both public and private organizations in science related fields engaged the girls in fun-filled, educational activities designed to teach them about various aspects of science and technology.
A group of women from the Chugach National Forest focused on a theme of Women of Wilderness while highlighting this year’s 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. While the older girls had the opportunity to choose between using their senses to identify different kinds of mushrooms, or learning about how to use special machines to identify bats sounds, all the girls were able to create their own Wilderness.
Ecologists Kate Mohatt and Betty Charnon led the mushroom activity, and Wildlife Biologist Jessica Ilse led the bat echolocation exercise. I helped the girls understand what Wilderness is and why it is so important. Alison Rein, Recreation Planner, helped to lead the girls through the creation of their own special Wilderness. In each case the presenters explained how studying the vitality of bats, mushrooms and other life forms in Wilderness Areas gives us a better understanding of the overall health of our National Forests.
Working in teams of four, and using colored markers, the girls drew their concept of a Wilderness on recycled paper. They used a variety of three-dimensional components to add life to their creations. To wrap up every session each team of girls was asked to describe why they made their Wilderness the way they did. The girls were very passionate, and even eloquent, as they shared the reasons for their special creations. After working with over 150 girls and Scout Leaders, the presenters felt that by getting so involved in creating a Wilderness the girls truly connected with the values inherent in these special places. Values that we hope will continue to resonate for the girls as they grow into Women of Science.
By Lezlie L. Murray, Visitor Services Director, Chugach National Forest