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Conservation Education - 2020 Projects

Whitehall Project Weed and Bio-Control Agent Survey

RMRS supports the Whitehall Project, an in-depth, hands on educational experience for high school students involving weed biological control agents in Montana. With RMRS support, the crew will map and sample Dalmatian, yellow, and hybrid toadflax, as well as biocontrol agents and any arthropods found on these plants. Samples will be processed and catalogued by RMRS, as part of their efforts to provide National Forests and other stakeholders with information on densities and distributions of invasive toadflaxes and associated arthropods in western rangeland.

Two boys check out hard hats, boots, and other firefighting equipment on a stone path.
Children check out firefighting equipment at a Science Saturday fire awareness event celebrating National Fire Preparedness Day.

Get Outdoors! Hands on Community Education Programs

This program includes three components, hosted by RMRS’s Brenda Strohmeyer and the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.  

Science Saturday is held on the first Saturday of every month from 9am-1pm. Each month is focused on a different theme (e.g. Fires and Forests, On the Trail) and each event offers fun and educational hands on activities. Artists, scientists, and experts join in to provide extra special opportunities to learn and explore. 

To enhance outdoor visitor experience and increase knowledge of citizen science within the community, in partnership with RMRS, Willow Bend will become an official iNaturalist site, host iNaturalist introductory training days, and design, fabricate, and install an iNaturalist interpretive sign with step by step instructions on using iNaturalist.

Finally, Willow Bend in partnership with RMRS will design and deliver in-class and outdoor programs for 4th graders focusing on wildlife and habitats. Curriculum based programs will include gardening, birding, forests, fire, ecology, watersheds, and more.

Girl Scouts of Silver Sage Plant and Pollinator Science Education

Sarah Barga and Frances Kilkenny will partner with the Girls Scouts of Silver Sage (GSSS) to provide STEM curricula for four planned events, including: a STEM outreach event for families of K-12 Girl Scout participants at Boise State University, an outside-focused activity at the Forest Service’s Lucky Peak Nursery, participation in their “Mad Scientist” summer camp curricula (McCall, Idaho), and an indoor-focused activity at the GSSS indoor classroom site. These programs will teach plant identification and the importance of relationships between native plants and native pollinators to 4th-6th graders.

Life in the Desert: Desert Ecosystem Intensive

Life in the Desert will be a four-day, field-based, science discovery workshop developed for middle school students led by Stan Kitchen and hosted at the RMRS Desert Experimental Range, Millard County, Utah. In its fifth year, the workshop is a partnership effort between RMRS and the Promontory School of Expeditionary Learning, a public charter school located in Perry, Utah. Students will learn how to conduct scientific studies on topics like plant and pollinator diversity and adaptations to stress and disturbance. They will also visit ancient petroglyphs and speculate on the possible purposes for their creation and the impact of ancient peoples on desert ecosystems through time.

A two-panel photo showing minnows in an aquarium with red markings.
Rio Grande silvery minnows in a classroom aquarium, marked with red tags.

National Fish in the Classroom Program

The National Fish in the Classroom Program is an excellent conservation learning opportunity for 4th-6th grade students that involves rearing species like the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout, Gila Trout, or small-bodied fish of the Middle Rio Grande and then releasing them in their native river systems. Yancey Ranspot provides assistance and education for the schools, and RMRS employees help determine which species is ideal for each school, provide educational booths at fish releases, and discuss fish, stream, and terrestrial and aquatic insect ecology onsite with students. Students are responsible for caring for the aquarium and keeping a scientific journal of their observations, problems, and resolutions, which provides evidence of their progress as they rear the fish, demonstrate stewardship, and release the fish into their respective river systems.

Exploring Methods in Vegetation Data Collection

Jackie Ott and Brian Dickerson will bring a group of 7th and 8th grade students on a tour of the Rapid City Forest and Grassland Research Laboratory with an overview of Forest Service careers. The students will then visit the Black Hills National Forest, where they will learn how to gather vegetation data from plots used by Forest Service researchers and professionals and discuss how these data are used to make informed management decisions. 

Two children holding nets and an adult stand next to a pond.
Campers explore a pond at a Junior Forester Academy event at the NAU Centennial Forest.

Science on Ice

The Science on Ice program teaches basic scientific principles to 5th graders from the Palouse region (north central Idaho and eastern Washington) using the unique setting of the Palouse Ice Rink in Moscow, Idaho. The physical science component of this field trip teaches students about the solid, liquid, and gas phases of water; gravity and friction; Newton's laws of motion; linear momentum and angular momentum, through a combination of lecture, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. Following the science portion of the program, students and their teachers are given ice skates and helmets and receive a skating lesson from a trained skating instructor.

Junior Forester Academy Scholarships

Guided by experts from the Rocky Mountain Research Station Flagstaff Lab, 4th-6th grade students will visit the Northern Arizona University Centennial Forest (CF) to identify song birds, trap ground beetles and learn what significance they have on forest health, core trees and learn how to read the historical story of the health of a forest, and learn why fire is an integral part of ponderosa pine forest ecosystem. This camp provides a fun and engaging learning experience that encourages kids to become active in their outdoor communities and schools.

Fish, Bird, and Nature Outdoor Classroom for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Kids

Get Outdoors Events strive to provide all ages and abilities an opportunity to have an educational day outdoors. This program invites students from the Albuquerque Sign Language Academy and other members of the deaf community to participate in activities like fishing, fish identification, birding, bird identification, and boating. RMRS scientists also host educational booths that the students rotate through during the day to learn more about birds, fish, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic environments, and more.