Submitted by Phil Hough
For the past five years, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness have given North Idaho, Western Montana and Eastern Washington kids — and teachers — a respite from the classroom and an adventure in the wintery outdoors. Now in in its sixth full year, FSPW Winter Tracks outdoor education program is close to filling its schedule for the winter.
“Getting students into the field during the winter has become an important part of our outdoor education program,” said FSPW Deputy Executive Director Britta Mireley. “We want to deepen their sense of place, build community, and connect them to the outdoor world. Winter Tracks does that very nicely.”
About 360 kid from 12 schools in three states enjoyed Winter Tracks in the 2017-18 season. Students participated in learning modules taught by knowledgeable community volunteers or FSPW staff. During the 2017-18 season, the modules were Tree Identification, Winter Birding, Animal Tracking, Leave No Trace, Skulls & Pelts, Avalanche Awareness and Orienteering.
“Our volunteer instructors, chaperones and guides not only bring invaluable knowledge and experience to the program, they also have a lot of fun,” said FSPW program coordinator Sandy Compton. “Any number of them have expressed that they derive a great deal of personal satisfaction by participating in Winter Tracks.”
For the 2018-19 season, Winter Tracks will benefit by a new curriculum guide created by Tyler Chisholm, who was Winter Tracks director during the 2016-17 season. Chisholm, who now works for the Park Service, graduated from Western Washington University with a Masters of Education in Environmental Education, which made her a natural choice to create a standardized set of lesson plans for Winter Tracks volunteer instructors to use in preparation for sessions.
“The curriculum gives our instructors a great place to start from, with activities and games to get the kids involved and interested,” said Mireley.
There are still a few dates available as FSPW looks forward to another successful season of getting kids — and teachers — outdoors. For more information, to volunteer or to arrange to get YOUR class into the wonderful world of winter, write to email@example.com and put Winter Tracks in the subject line or call the FSPW offices at 208-265-4236.
Jeff Pennick, FSPW volunteer instructor, points out the attributes of abies grandis to students. Photo courtesy Amen Photography.