On October 31st, 2019, SWEP put on a Forest Health Field Day for all North Tahoe School seventh graders, all 120 of them!
On this day they ventured out into the chilly morning that so often accompanies Halloween in Tahoe to learn a variety of tools and information about forest health. Broken up into three large groups and then into subgroups of 8 students each which was accompanied by a volunteer that gave their day to education of these middle schools students. The three large groups rotated through three informative and interactive stations.
The first station was led by SWEP's Program Director, Ashley Phillips, who led the group in forest health observation and data collection. Each subgroup then went to their own 20ft by 20ft plot to collect data on the types and sizes of each tree and shrub in the plot to then decipher if their plot was healthy. What did they discover? Most of the plots had good or fair forest health.
The second station, led by SWEP's Field Instructor, Shannon Keener, was all about orienteering. The students learned how to use coordinates and a compass to find puzzle pieces that led them to learn about local flora. The students enjoyed tromping through the forest in their small groups to find their treasure, and many shared after the event that they loved learning how to use a compass!
The Sugar Pine Foundation put on the last station and taught the students all about Sugar Pine trees and why they are important. Students learned that Sugar Pine trees have the biggest pine cones out of all the pines, have needles in bunches of 5 and are currently in danger of dying of blister rust. Tressa Gibbard, from SPF, also taught the students how to properly plant Sugar Pines and the students subsequently ran into the woods to plant 328 saplings throughout the day! We do this every year and it is wonderful to come back each fall to see all the thriving Sugar Pines from the previous years.
The day was considered a big success and a great way to utilize the sugar high of Halloween for the betterment of our local forest. In the survey taken the next day in class, 82% of these 7th grade students said that they now know more about the forest in their own backyard. We are grateful to get to inspire the next generation of stewards and to empower them with knowledge and tools for discovery.
Much gratitude to North Tahoe School, Sugar Pine Foundation and Tahoe Truckee Unified School District for making this day possible. Thanks to Syd's Bagelry & Espresso and Melanie Jackson for their tasty donations for the volunteers. And of course many thanks to our incredible volunteers!!!