Donner Trail Elementary | Yuba River Day provides outdoor education |

Donner Trail Elementary | Yuba River Day provides outdoor education

Courtesy photoDonner Trail Elementary students use a chart and microscope to identify aquatic species.

DONNER SUMMIT, Calif. – Donner Trail Elementary held their 16th Annual Yuba River Day at Donner Trail on Friday, Sept. 28. This event provides children in kindergarten through fifth-grade the opportunity to learn about the local environment and history with a scientific approach and hands-on learning.

Yuba River Day is the culmination of a week of learning activities. The entire week prior to the day, the students are learning about the balance of nature, conservation and habitats. Through a grant from the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation, the students in grade fourth and fifth learned about the life cycles and diets of owls. They dissected owl pellets and mapped all of their findings.

Funded by the school’s PTO, the Banana Slug String Band played for the entire school and incorporated conservation and the importance of preserving the environment into their show. Each student had the opportunity to help with local habitat restoration. The Village Nursery offered discounted native plants and trees that students purchased to plant at the school on Yuba River Day. North Tahoe Fire Protection District attended the day and educated the students on water conservation/monitoring and fire ecology and fire safety.

Activities during Yuba River Day included actually getting into the Yuba River to identify various water bugs and learn about their habitats and the importance of maintaining the water quality of local rivers. Through another Excellence In Education grant, the students used waders, microscopes and learning materials to draw and label the types and body parts of the water bugs they found and then released them back to their habitats. Weather forecasting and the impacts of weather on the environment were taught as well.

They learned about area history and the Native American Washoe peoples who lived in the area. They were taught how the Washoe lived and worked by experiencing it. They built a shelter teepee made of cut willow branches and materials gathered at the school site. They drank tea made of pine needles and were shown handmade Washoe baskets that were used for gathering food. They even had the opportunity to play drums.

Thank you to all of the community businesses, firefighters, Excellence In Education and most especially the parents of Donner Trail students for making this valuable event happen every year.

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