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Ash Meadows Ed-Ventures – Season of the Bighorn Sheep!

Ash Meadows Ed-Ventures – Season of the Bighorn Sheep!

Over 300 third graders from five schools in Amargosa Valley and Pahrump visited Ash Meadows this

Students were amazed to see wild bighorn sheep for the first time during their field trip to Ash Meadows! Photo by Cyndi Souza/USFWS.

fall for the 6th season of Ed-Ventures field trips!

Ash Meadows Ed-Ventures is an experiential, environmental education program for third graders in Nye County – a highly underserved area. While meeting important cross-curricular academic standards, the program strives to foster an appreciation for the refuge and its precious biological resources in the desert. The hope is that the Ed-Ventures experience will someday translate into a sense of pride and stewardship for our public lands in southern Nevada.

SNAP educator, Stacy Dahl, leads students on a sensory hike to learn about the plants and animals on the refuge. Photo by Jessica Babbitt/USFWS

Prior to the field trips, Ed-Ventures staff visited each school for two fun-filled hours of educational games, skits, stories, and more. Through these activities, students were introduced to what a national wildlife refuge is, the different types of careers at Ash Meadows, what a wetland habitat is, aquatic invertebrate life cycles, and some of the different animals they might encounter on their field trip.

In October, the students, teachers, and parent chaperones visited the Point of Rocks boardwalk for their field trips. Students always arrived buzzing with energy and excitement – for most students this was their first trip to Ash Meadows and their only field trip of the year! The trips always began with awarm, welcome orientation to the refuge by Alyson Mack followed by a group sing-a-long of “The Ash Meadows Song” (with motions!).

Because of the time of year, almost every student was able to watch desert bighorn sheep in the wild as

“Ranger Alyson” helps students identify the aquatic macroinvertebrates they collected from the stream. Photo by Jessica Babbitt/USFWS.

they travelled up and down the Point of Rocks range to drink from the springs below. These special encounters provided the perfect “teachable moments”, capturing the students’ full attention and filling their curious minds with endless questions and amazement!

Throughout the course of the 3.5 hours trips, students went on a “sensory hike” around the boardwalk, observed plankton under microscopes, counted macroinvertebrates from the stream, watched the endangered Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish swimming in King’s Pool, and shared their experiences with each other over a picnic lunch. The focus of the trip was for students to “think like biologists” by making observations using their senses, microscopes, and other tools, collecting and recording their observations in field journals, and then discussing and sharing their findings with each other. Students were divided into small groups of ten to facilitate the spirit of collaboration and teamwork – important skills for biologists, and any professional, to have!

Students make observations of zooplankton (animal) and phytoplankton (plant) using microscopes, then make sketches in their field journals. Photo by Jessica Babbitt/USFWS.

The Ed-Ventures program is made possible through a partnership with the Death Valley Natural History Association, the Southern Nye County Conservation District, the Amargosa Conservancy, the Great Basin Institute, and the Southern Nevada Agency Partnership. These groups provide funds for school buses, teaching supplies, incredible staff, and more. A big thanks to all of the truly dedicated and passionate individuals who make this happen each year for the students of Nye County!

– Alyson Mack, Great Basin Institute Environmental Education & Outreach Specialist

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