My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Outdoor School

:Last week, Carla, one of my favorite staffers and the person who made my Power Point show possible, asked me to go with her to Outdoor School.  This is a day, offered every two years, when all the 5th and 6th graders from Grant County come to a place in Malheur National Forest for outdoor education.  The children move from one station to another, for a total of ten stations, and learn about the Northern Paiutes that lived here, and how they gathered food, made baskets and rope, and used the baskets to haul water and as cooking pots. They also learned about the throwing sticks and got to practice throwing them. Other stations talked about forestry, the importance of fire to aspen groves, the invertebrates and mammals of the area, the parts of a tree and were able to core a tree and find out its age. 

Carla had corporal tunnel surgery earlier this week and is not supposed to drive.  So I was the chauffeur and the hauler of stuff.  She left me directions to her house in Burns and her keys.  I needed to bring a lunch and dress warmly because this place is up in the mountains about 50 miles north of Burns. I was glad I had on my long john bottoms under my nylon pants when our first job was to get the snow off the tarp and get it high enough to use. (The site had had a light snow storm last night.) We couldn't lift the tarps so we just backed under the places where the snow had accumulated and lifted the tarps while we backed to the tarp edge.  Then I realized the negative part of this - the falling snow landed right on our posteriors, giving us a refreshing snow shower. 

Our day consisted of giving 9 talks about the plants the Northern Paiutes used for food, shoes, mats, and ropes. I gave the last talk after learning all about the materials we shared with the kids from listening to Carla. We had one short but heavy snow storm during the day but we managed to get in our cars and on the way home before another short but heavier storm hit.  The kids had fun but  the last two groups were very tired.  The sites were scattered throughout the woods and the buses parked a little ways down the road. The kids ate lunch in the buses since it was too cold and wet to sit on the ground.  So they had to both walk to all the stations and walk from one of the stations to the buses, then back.  With roughhousing while waiting for the classes to start, they probably walked more than two miles and then stood around for each presentation. They also had to chase their throwing sticks for more exercise. 

Our table with the artifacts we used in our talks.

One of the four busloads of kids arriving
Carla setting the stage for what life was like about 500 years ago
 After lunch, Carla suggested that I take a walk around and see what was happening at the other stations. Part of the time, we were on lunch break, but I caught a little action at some stations. 
Kids taking turns turning the tree corer in and out
Beautiful spring violets I found between stations

These guys were talking about forestry and warming everyone up.  They also had the only seats in town.