Students learn skills from Nature Conservancy program
The Nature Conservancy’s High Sierra Carson River Workshop provided seven high school students from Carson, Douglas and Lyon counties with an opportunity to learn about natural systems in the Carson River and the Sierra Nevada.
“We wanted to give students with an interest in nature the opportunity to participate in a learning experience they could not otherwise have,” said Duane Petite, Carson River project director with The Nature Conservancy.
The June workshop for students 15-17 years old featured five days of front country activities based in Carson Valley and Hope Valley, and three days of back country activities based in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness at Wolf Creek Trailhead.
“With the combination of both front country and back country experiences we can give the students the whole picture, from a place where human activities have greatly impacted the river to where we have had very little impact,” said Petite. “Both perspectives are important to our understanding of how to manage natural resources for the benefit of both people and nature.”
In the front country, students and facilitator/-
instructors spent their days rafting down the East Fork of the Carson River, receiving training in wilderness first aid skills, and learning birding, field sketching and field note taking skills. In the evenings, students learned wilderness navigation skills using a topographic map and compass, which they put to the test during challenging night hikes.
Each evening before lights-out the group wrote poems based on key words related to the day’s activities.
Back country activities included field-based lessons in botany, water quality monitoring, river processes, and vegetation and wildlife monitoring with hikes along the upper reaches of the Carson River and its tributaries. Night activities included hiking, stargazing and gathering around the campfire.
The final day concluded with a meal prepared in Dutch ovens by Joe Cereghino of Little Antelope Pack Station and skits performed by the students, including a re-enactment of one facilitator/instructor’s brief swim in the Carson River during the raft trip.
In addition to learning about conservation and resource management, students discovered what it means to be good stewards of the land, observing the Leave No Trace ethic. And they learned about each other, group cooperation, and team building.
Student Derek Paradise took his mom, his brother and his map out hiking on a recent Sunday on the same trail in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness that he hiked with the group on the final day of the High Sierra Carson River workshop.
“My mom said, ‘Now that you have been to all these places, show us where we should go for a hike,'” said Paradise. “So I got out my map and said here, here, here, here, here … and we went to Wolf Creek.”
The program’s instructors included personnel from The Nature Conservancy, US Forest Service, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Audubon
Society, the Wilderness Medicine Institute, John Muir Laws, Great Basin Sports, and REI.