By Victoria Fregoso, Lead Reporter at County10.com
(Red Canyon) – Students from Lander Middle School are getting their hands dirty with the Popo Agie Anglers and the National Outdoor Leadership School while learning about the environment that surrounds them.
“We’re working with the middle school population and some local conservation groups to get together and harvest willows that we’re going to replant for preserving our river side embankments on the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus,” said John Stoddard, Project Manager with the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Just over 100 students are taking part in the harvesting, this activity will also improve conditions for fish by increasing shade and giving the fish places to hide.
“Anything that you help to improve the habitat is going to help bring more fish into the specific area of river and probably benefit the whole population,” said Nick Dobric, a volunteer with the Popo Agie Anglers.
Besides harvesting willows, students also learned about aquatic insects, plants and animals that can be harmful, how to use GPS and they even got some hands on experience with fly fishing.
Noah Gans, a 6th grade student at Lander Middle School said he was excited when he found out they were going to make the trip to Red Canyon. “Many of our teachers have been supporting to come out here and it’s great that Lander Middle School could let us do this and come out here for half a school day and get taught new experiences that we haven’t been taught before.”
And that is exactly what teachers were hoping the students would take away from this community service project.
“The place based education, outside and the areas around Wyoming, that’s our classroom and our curriculum,” said 6th grade language arts teacher Jeramie Prine. “I really like the format that we have today working with NOLS and Popo Agie Anglers and Game and Fish. I think it’s going to be a valuable experience for them.”
During this community service project, students will make up to 800 willow cuttings. But before they are replanted about 300 yards up the river, there are a few more steps that must be taken.
“Near the site we’re going to plant them, we’ve got some stock tanks we’re going to fill with water and we’re going to soak these for the next couple of weeks. Soaking them helps with the sucess of the
plantings,” said Nick Scribner a Habitat Biologist with Wyoming Game and Fish. “We could plant them directly today but your success is going to go down quite a bit.”
On April 20th, these same students will return and lend a hand in the planting process.
Gans says “It’s really great because kids are getting great experiences and they’re having a great time.”