Winter Tracks – 2015/2016

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Photo by Amen Photography

On January 14th, students from Sandpoint High School arrived at Round Lake State park for a day of fun and education. The next day, a middle school class from the Spokane Montessori School came out to enjoy the program, and on February 11th, two classes from Forrest M Bird Charter School participated in the program.

Once at Round Lake, the students split into groups, which rotated through four stations. At each station, students are taught a variety of skills, facts, and ideas pertaining to the ecology of the Inland Northwest. Teachers at each station have years, if not decades of experience in their subject matter, and are able to impart a great deal of knowledge to the students, while still having a lot of fun.

The first station, from which the program gets its name, is focused on tracking wildlife. Students go out into the forest to find signs of wildlife, and interpret the animal sign that they find. The students from Forrest M Bird Charter School found one of the most interesting tracks when they found a bobcat paw print on a log, which the bobcat made while peering over the log, possibly when stalking prey.

A student learns about trees of the Inland Northwest. Photo by Amen Photography

A student learns about trees of the Inland Northwest.
Photo by Amen Photography

At the second station, students learn to identify some of the major tree species that are most commonly found in our local forests.

At the third station, students are shown pelts, skulls, and antler sheds from some of the most interesting mammals found in this area. They are typically fascinated by the enormity of an elk antler and loved to feel the softness of Fisher and Ermine pelts.

Finally, the students learn about the seven Leave No Trace Principles, talk about the various habitats that can be found in our local forests, and learn about the importance of preserving those habitats though interactive exercises.

Besides learning about the importance of our local forests, and why we should preserve places like the Scotchman Peaks, students also seem to have a lot of fun. In one of the more lighthearted moments from the three events, a student from Forrest M Bird remarked “Yeah, I’ve had a lot of fun. When we were on the way here, I didn’t think it would be that fun, but it was actually a lot of fun!”

Instructor Brian Baxter gets student interacting with nature. Photo by Amen Photography

Instructor Brian Baxter gets student interacting with nature.
Photo by Amen Photography

The students, however, weren’t the only ones having fun. FSPW Programs Coordinator and tracking class teacher Sandy Compton said that “it’s always so rewarding to see these kids, many of whom spend the majority of their time indoors, light up when they find a track and figure out what the animal was doing when they made it. It reminds me of the magic that wild places can provide.”

To learn how to get involved with Winter Tracks as a school or volunteer, contact our Winter Program Coordinator at wintertracks@scotchmanpeaks.org.

Visit our main Winter Tracks page here.