As predictable as the return of loons in spring, young students from across the valley who have participated in the Earth Stewardship Program sponsored by the Bitter Root Water Forum over the course of the school year, began spilling out into the forest for an actual day out in the field. Last week it was mostly Corvallis 7th graders pouring into the Bass Creek Recreation area for their annual Field Day trip.
Throughout the 2018-2019 school year, seventh graders at Corvallis, Victor, Lone Rock, and Darby middle schools have participated in monthly classes as part of the program. Through ongoing partnerships, the Water Forum was able to provide specialists from the Bitterroot National Forest, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Ravalli County Weed District, Bitterroot Valley FFA, and O’Hara Commons who provided a variety of presentations on unique natural resource topics.
Through these lessons, students learned about the importance of snowpack, irrigation, water insects, native Montana fish, the Bitterroot Valley watershed, noxious weeds, and recreational ethics and etiquette. Over 185 students participated in classroom programs this year.
The end of the year is capped off with a hands-on, outdoor field trip to get them out of the classroom and into the water.
The 7th grade students from Corvallis walked a long distance down the road from the Bass Creek picnic area to the Larry Creek campground where they split up into smaller teams to visit various stations where they learned about stream flow, water insects, native fish, noxious weeds and local birds. The Corvallis had a special station this year in which they learned to play some Salish games. Victor and Lone Rock students will learn about animal habitats in a special station sponsored by B.E.A.R.
“All these stations help connect youth to the watershed, and to the important role that water plays in a community,” said Emilie Lahneman, Big Sky Watershed Corps member for the Water Forum.