Tahoe”s Winter Discovery Program finds home in a yurt | SierraSun.com

Tahoe”s Winter Discovery Program finds home in a yurt

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunChristine McMorrow, the executive director of Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships and Vali Murnane, the program director for Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association, stand outside the recently constructed Winter Discovery Center at Tahoe Cross Country Sunday.

Maybe you saw the 30-foot yurt in Tahoe City. No? Then check it out, Jan. 8, for the Winter Discovery Program’s volunteer training from 6 to 8 p.m.

The program’s pilot year is a collaboration between the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association and Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships (SWEP).

“This is an exciting new community asset,” said Christine McMorrow, Executive Director of SWEP, of the yurt and the science-based program.

Two hundred and fifty third-to- fifth grade students from Tahoe Lake and Kings Beach Elementary Schools will participate in the Winter Discovery Program. The theme is winter ecology, with three topics: Watersheds and Weather, Ecosystems and Adaptation and Nutrition and Fitness.

The curriculum relates to the winter environment and California state content standards. Students will be involved in monitoring the high and low temperatures and snow height. Kevin and Valli Murnane, owners of Tahoe Cross Country in Tahoe City, offer a free ski program for school age children, and had the space for the yurt.

“We are glad to offer it to the community. After many years of fundraising and volunteer help we did it,” said Valli Murnane. The program is a member of the Winter Wildlands Alliance Snow School network and the only snow school site in California.

“Numerous people donated time and energy,” said McMorrow. “From floor boards, lighting, to the heat source [a woodstove]. Excellence in Education donated $25,000 and the Lahonton Community Foundation $5,000 for the yurt.”

Winter activities and education has a home. Now, just one more little thing is needed. “We’d like to get a permanent weather station,” said McMorrow. “We’re having two full-moon cross-country ski fundraising dinners.” Actually there are three, but the first is sold out. The dinners include a ski to huts above Tahoe City for hot cocoa and cider, then back for a candlelight dinner in the yurt.

McMorrow also stated the Winter Discovery Program and Center combine the best of the Lake Tahoe Truckee area’s passion, time and energy. “It’s exciting enough to get people going full force.”

Additional resources were donated by the Kiwanis, Nevada Energy and the Gourmet Ski Tour.

For information about the Winter Discovery Program, Center or moonlight ski dinners, call McMorrow at 525-9457 or e-mail christine@4swep.org.

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