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Taking education to the outdoors

Class was held in Yosemite National Park last week for a dozen Tahoe Truckee High School students.

As part of an environmental program organized by the Yosemite Institute, Sue Lowder, a science teacher at the high school, and her students spent seven days in the Yosemite Valley studying biology, ecology, and taking part in team building activities. This was the second year that Lowder and her students attended the program.”I wanted more than a field trip,” Lowder said. “Our kids are in great shape and are willing, so I asked for a physically strenuous program with a focus on biology and ecology.”

The institute gave Lowder’s group just that. Students were guided on nature walks, hikes to Nevada Falls and Lambert Dome, and through the sequoia forests, all while learning about and following a “leave no trace” philosophy.”We went to see the giant sequoia trees; they’re some of the oldest trees in the world,” said 10th grader Matt Hardy. “And we learned that the tonic acid in their bark makes them fire proof, but their wood is bad for construction because it is brittle; that’s the reason why the trees shatter when they fall.”



Lowder said that her main reason for attending the program is not for the knowledge the students gain, but for the increased confidence and independence that they find.”We did a lot more hiking this year compared to last,” 10th grader Kaitlin Russen said, adding that the group enjoyed the trip so much that they are discussing a backpacking trip to the Yosemite Valley. “It pushed people farther than they thought they could go, so people were really proud of themselves. And we did a lot of team building to get closer as a group.”


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