Leaving no trace: Elementary students work to protect Lake Tahoe
Special to the Bonanza
Sunday, April 20, was a beautiful spring day with a bluebird sky calling my family outside to enjoy a community hike up the Tunnel Creek Trailhead.
The hike was organized by AmeriCorps member Laurel Frederick of Incline Elementary School’s Science & Outdoor Education Program.
Upon gathering at the Tunnel Creek Trailhead, surrounded by many other families, we were introduced to and given a presentation by Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers Danielle Rowland and Roland Mott.
Danielle and Roland work with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to promote and foster stewardship of public lands through education and training.
To bolster the presentation a prize was announced for the child with the most trash collected on the hike. With these rousing words the kids excitedly began the march up the trail followed by the parents.
The mood was cheery and I felt a sense of community while chatting with the parents and watching the kids eagerly put into practice the seven “Leave No Trace” principles.
As would be expected when prizes are on the line, the kids, who ranged in ages from one to ten years old, raced around keenly surveying the landscape looking for trash and soon we reached the boulder strewn lookout point, our summit.
Although the youngest members of this exhibition were carried, they celebrated the summit none the less, some proudly clutching small bits of trash.
Competition among the kids for collection of the most trash was actually mild since there wasn’t too much to pick up, so camaraderie became the order of the day.
In the end all the kids were winners; not only benefitting from learning to leave no trace, but also a big blue Bigfoot patch was handed out reminding them that Bigfoot has been leaving no trace for years.
Every IES student’s outdoor education is a product of a collaborative curriculum that Laurel has helped implement into our school.
As a parent of a first-grader at IES I appreciate that Laurel’s efforts have delivered to our kids a curiosity and desire to understand the world around them, while also providing hands-on classroom interaction and reinforcing the academics through practical experiences.
Furthermore, Laurel is not the only AmeriCorps serving IES. The entire AmeriCorps team of 17 is currently working on a service project with the kids to complete and beautify the outdoor classroom spaces at IES.
This will include an interpretive trail, native garden, bird houses and 3 learning centers. With all of Laurel’s commitments it is wonderful she finds the time to organize a hike bringing families together.
The “Leave No Trace” hike was a wonderful way to start a week of Earth Day events and my family and I look forward to more community hikes in the future.