A year of outdoor education with FRLT
It’s been a busy year in the Feather River Watershed for Mountain Kids. With our partners, FRLT has had a wonderful year supporting and encouraging the continued outdoor education of local youth. By getting kids outside, we hope that the next generation cultivates a love of nature and stewardship for the place around them.
Together, we’re connecting kids to nature in a variety of ways. Some of that is by having class outside on a Learning Landscape site, some of it is hands-on stewardship projects with our community partners, and some of it is through exploring FRLT preserves and nearby conserved lands.
Connecting with nature through Learning Landscapes
Visits throughout the school year to Learning Landscapes sites fosters a continued appreciation of the natural world for students of all ages. Learning Landscapes is FRLT’s K-12 conservation and education program that connects kids to nature by conserving and enhancing “outdoor classrooms” within a 10-minute walk of every school in the watershed, and supporting teachers and kids to use them for outdoor learning.
This past year, Learning Landscapes outdoor classrooms have been in consistent use by teachers and their students throughout the region. Whether it’s Quincy High students in Mr. McMorrow’s AP Environmental Science class taking water samples from Boyle Creek or Plumas Charter students cleaning up litter, teachers and students from Quincy schools frequently visit the Leonhardt Ranch Learning Landscape and Abby’s Barn for outdoor learning and stewardship projects.
In Portola, students from C. Roy Carmichael Elementary take regular visits to Kid’s Creek Forest, part of the Outdoor Core curriculum used by teachers to educate students about the environment.
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Exploring conserved lands with FRLT
Exploration goes beyond the school zone with field visits to FRLT-conserved lands like the Heart K Ranch in Genesee Valley. FRLT’s Northern Regional Manager Nils Lunder recently hosted a group of 1st-5th graders from Plumas Charter’s Indian Valley Academy.
Students were oriented to the property and some of the projects FRLT has in the pipeline before venturing up into the FRLT and adjacent US Forest Service lands. Nils stopped the hike occasionally to point out effects of the Dixie Fire and fire suppression efforts, like dozer lines, that still remain on the property, as well as recent restoration efforts. Students discovered different types of soil, unique rock formations, and evidence of animal activity.
The field trip ended with a visit inside the historic pole barn and cattle weigh station that reside on the Heart K Ranch.
Building the next generation of land stewards
For us, outdoor learning includes building a culture of care and empowerment among Feather River kids through hands-on stewardship projects. When possible, students participate in land stewardship, trail building, and habitat restoration on their Learning Landscapes outdoor classrooms and nearby conserved lands.
FRLT and local schools partner with Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) to help students build and maintain trails on their Learning Landscapes sites. This year, SBTS led a few groups of 3rd and 4th Graders out to dig some new trail in Boyles Ravine, located at the end of Coburn Street in Quincy. After giving the classes full instructions on proper tool use, each group improved on each other’s work, creating the opportunity for little kids to make a big impact on supporting their community and trails.
More sessions were held with Greenville’s 3rd through 6th graders working to recreate the Greenville Cemetery Trail and one with Chester Elementary students on the Collins Pine Trail. These Fall and Spring “Trail Tuesdays” get kids working with trail professionals to learn the craft of trail care. It has been over 13 years of partnership between Plumas Unified School District, FRLT, and Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship to design, create and maintain trails together.
For future generations
Join us in connecting kids to nature and grow the next generation of the earth’s stewards
Committing to outdoor education for all
By conserving lands near public schools where daily outdoor education experiences can occur, we create the opportunity for every schoolchild in the region to forge their own lasting relationship with the ground at their feet. Our hope is that no matter where they eventually settle, children from the Feather River Watershed will have learned how to get to know a place, to love a place, and to take care of a place.
Beyond our watershed, FRLT is committed to the further development of outdoor education for kids all over. Learning Landscapes coordinator and PCOE educator Rob Wade has worked to make the Learning Landscapes program scalable and adaptable to any community’s needs. FRLT is proud to have assisted Rob in hosting the 3rd annual K-12 Leadership Summit in early 2022, where educators and land trusts from around the nation gathered in Feather River country to develop plans and build confidence in leading outdoor education programs. We look forward to another collaborative summit in spring 2023.