Summer camp provides lifelong environmental learning for Utah high schoolers

Ron Francis
Natural Resources Conservation Service-Utah
October 18th, 2013 at 5:15PM

utah high schoolers uncovers forest insectsNature High Summer Camp, an annual high-energy environmental learning experience for high school students in Utah, was held in July at the historic Great Basin Environmental Education Center in central Utah’s Ephraim Canyon.

For more than 20 years, several federal natural resource agencies and state partners have sponsored the event to help students of all walks of life learn the importance of science-based natural resource conservation and consider related careers at organizations like the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

This year, 28 students from across the state came together to learn about natural resources, meet natural resource professionals, learn the value of teamwork and have fun making new friends.

For hands-on learning, the students were divided into resource interest groups, under the direction of a camp counselor. They were presented with a scenario that required the development of a resource management plan to balance competing interests on both public and private lands in Ephraim Canyon.

The five resource interest groups—representing livestock producers, environmentalists, hikers, all-terrain riders and sportsmen—met together at the conclusion of the camp, in a lively town hall-like setting, to come up with an agreed-upon  resource management plan as a solution to the scenario.

utah high schooler learn soil texture by feel and appearance During the camp each group spent time with resource professionals to learn about relevant subjects like aquatic ecology, hydrology, entomology, soil science and forest ecology. Other time was spent learning about career options related to natural resources and visiting nearby Snow College.

Camp attendees also accomplished a service project, clearing weeds and brush around an education center building. This firewise barrier will help protect the 100-year-old historic structure, originally used as a sheep range experiment station, from wildfire.

The sponsors are the NRCS, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological SurveySnow College and the Utah Association of Conservation Districts.