Students Learn, Explore Elwha Valley Through Skills Center Course
What did you do in Olympic National Park this summer?
Thirteen adventurous high school students from across the Olympic Peninsula came together as a field crew to explore the Elwha Valley and conduct research and service projects related to Elwha River Restoration.
The students were on a quest for hands-on experiences, outdoor adventures, and real-world skills--exactly what the Summer 2010 Elwha Adventure was developed to provide.
The summer field program is funded through a National Parks Foundation 'Park Stewards' grant. Curriculum for the 14-day learning experience was designed by the park's outreach/education specialist Dean Butterworth and natural resources teacher Dan Lieberman of the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center.
"As part of this overall program, we hope to get local high school students inspired to be the next generation of natural resources professionals," said Lieberman. "To help achieve this, we hope to find students to place in internships with Olympic National Park."
Joining students, teachers and rangers in the field were scientists from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. During the program, participants hiked to locations above, below and between the two soon-to-be-removed Elwha River dams, collecting and analyzing scientific data. Students also identified and removed invasive plants and collected and processed native plant seeds that can be used in revegetation efforts during and after dam removal.
Josh Moan said he especially enjoyed removing invasive plant species, including herb Robert, known to the students as 'stinky bob.'
"I got to develop my own plan to gather stinky bob," said the Port Angeles High School senior.
Sequim High senior Sadie Zimmerman and Port Angeles freshman Jordan Johnson said the video project portion of Elwha Adventure was their favorite.
Zimmerman's Elwha film and other student video projects can be viewed at www.youtube.com/user/NatResAdventure. Students also earned .5 high school science credits for their work in the field.
Besides being educational and fun, educators and students both agreed that the summer field program benefits Olympic National Park and the entire Olympic Peninsula.
"Service learning means that you are doing service for the community while you are also learning new techniques," said Autumn Hennings-Lucas.
Bryan Schlinkmann said he enjoyed the experience of working within the park, calling it "a place that can be expected to be protected for the rest of time."
Enrollment is now open for North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center Natural Resources 1, which is an early-afternoon adventure throughout the school year and Natural Resources Senior Culminating Projects, which are flexibly-scheduled service project opportunities. For more information or to register, please visit the NOPSC website or contact Dan Lieberman at 360-565-1892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.