Kids want community to be more ‘bear aware’ | SierraSun.com

Kids want community to be more ‘bear aware’

Renee Shadforth
Sierra Sun
Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunSecond graders work on tiles for a project that is aimed at educating people about how to live with bears.
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Looking through a stack of books during silent reading time at Glenshire Elementary School last week, second grader Thomas Jones speaks softly about something that has clearly been on his mind for a while: bears.

For the past few weeks, he and his fellow second graders at the school have been working on a project to educate the community about the large creatures that live among us, and Jones knows exactly why this project is important.

“We’re doing this project because we’re trying to educate people not to kill bears,” he said. “If they feed a bear, then the bear will come back, and if the bears stop getting food, the bear will get angry, and then the people get angry and then they call Fish and Game, and they kill the bear.

“We want to try to educate people ” the visitors, the tourists, the people who live here,” he said.

The project started last school year, in cooperation with the BEAR League, as a way to educate the community and visitors about living with bears. Students created posters and posted them in businesses around town.

“Children learn a tremendous amount from this type of service learning project,” said Suzanne Samson, a second-grade teacher at Glenshire Elementary. “Not only are they reading, writing, researching and learning things in the science and social studies curriculum, but they are also being empowered. They are learning they can make a positive difference in their community.”

But as the posters came down or wore out, Samson decided she wanted to do something more permanent with this year’s class.

She enlisted the help of BEAR League member Laura Seligman, who owns Painted Rock Pottery Studio in Tahoe City. Seligman donated supplies ” tiles, paint and her kiln ” so students could paint tiles to go on a wall that would educate the public and memorialize the bears that have died.

“This project is important to me because I care about the environment we live in ” and that includes the community, the kids and the bears,” Seligman said. “That’s why it’s important to tell the students why it’s important to protect the place they live.”

Now that all the tiles have been painted by the students, one pivotal part of the project remains incomplete: They are still seeking a location for the wall. Teachers and students in Glenshire Elementary’s four second-grade classes are hoping a business or agency will come forward with a spot to put the tiles.

“It would inspire people to stop putting out their garbage and stuff,” said second grader Cleo Mayer. “And it would tell people to stop feeding bears, and if you feed the bears, that means they are dead.”

For more information on the bear wall project, or to suggest a location, call Glenshire Elementary School at 582-7675 and leave a message for Suzanne Samson.