NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!







Wednesday, August 10, 2022

NOS Programming Highlight: Nature @ Nine!

Those of you who have been attending our summer programming over the years may have noticed a difference in one of our programs for this summer. We moved our 4-7 year old Nature program from noon to nine.


We made the decision to move our program to earlier in the day thanks to helpful input and suggestions from parents and youth who attended the summer program last year. This move in time helped beat some of this famous Nevada heat this year! 

 

 

Nature @ Nine at the Spring Creek Marina. A lesson all about dinosaurs!

Our Nature @ Nine program is geared for 4-7 year olds but is open to anyone who would like to participate. Each lesson includes games, songs, a book, and a craft. For nine weeks throughout the summer months Nevada Outdoor School comes to eight different locations throughout Nevada to deliver these Nature @ Nine lessons! The areas serviced this year are Elko, Spring Creek, Carlin, Wells, Winnemucca, Imlay, Paradise Valley and Battle Mountain. 


Each week is a new nature based topic. Some topics have included; worms, butterflies, dinosaurs, habitats, birds, flowers, and animal tracks! One of the more popular lessons was our worm lesson! Youth got to learn all about worms; how they move, what they eat, and why they are important. Youth also got to explore, hold, and pet a real worm! At first many were nervous to hold the worm but by the end of the lesson, most students were holding and touching the worms. It was fun to see all the different reactions and watch as youth giggled, laughed and explored! 

 


If you haven’t had a chance to make it to one of our N@N programs yet, don’t worry! We still have one more week of fun activities until summer is over! Our last week is August 15th-18th and we look forward to seeing YOU there! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Discoveries Await

 Imagine the discoveries that the emigrants made as they traveled along the California Trail.  Discoveries about the landscape, about plants and animals, about those they traveled with, and themselves.  Summer camps at Nevada Outdoor School are full of discovery also!  While we may not travel thousands of miles over many months, our campers are transported by our outdoor educators into discovery mindsets, no matter where they are.

Nevada is a state that can boast about great biological diversity and a deep and rich historical story.  If one were to only stay on I-80 passing through at 80 miles an hour, much of the beauty and legend will be missed, but when one opts to step off the beaten path, treasures await. 

Great Basin National Park is one of those treasures.  Located about 1 hour southeast of Ely, this national park is a great place to sample the diversity of Nevada and discover things about nature and yourself.   Campers, ages 11 - 13, attending the Great Basin Excursion were able to walk among the ancient bristlecone pine trees, experience total darkness and stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and cave shields inside Lehman Caves, and observe one of the darkest night skies in our country.  Four nights of camping also afforded campers the opportunity to work together as a team to make meals and take care of one another, while sharing many laughs around the evening “campfire”.  Due to the campfire ban, along with daily afternoon thunderstorms, campers discovered how they could adapt, overcome, and make the best of a situation.

The California Trail Interpretive Center is another Nevada treasure that is ripe with discovery, celebrating the tenacity and spirit of the nearly 250,000 people who bravely set out for California between 1841 and 1869.  Spending a day there is like going back in time, with an added bonus of air conditioning.  Day-campers, ages 8 - 13, walked along the nature trail discovering animal tracks and scat, cooked their lunch in a Dutch oven, explored the Center exhibits conveying them from Missouri to California, made crafts, shot bows and arrows, and threw axes.  

 

California Trail Interpretive Center Day Campers spent time learning and practicing with bow and arrows.

 

Kids with bows and arrows and throwing axes? Is that safe?  That may be an initial reaction by many, but at Nevada Outdoor School we know that outdoor education is risky business that can be carefully managed with training, thoughtful prior preparation, and careful management of participants.  Allowing kids to fully participate in activities like archery and axe throwing helps them to discover and stretch their physical abilities while teaching them about safety and how risk can be managed by choices.  

If bows and arrows and axes weren’t enough, in Battle Mountain at Borealis Park another group of day campers, ages 8 - 13, were launching rockets and discovering the power of the sun and its ability to warm up their lunch of chili and cheese in a solar oven.  Dreaming of space travel and learning about our solar system inspires campers to reach for the stars.

Children (and adults, too!) who spend time outdoors are known to be happier, stronger, and more confident.  Why?  At Nevada Outdoor School we love to get people outdoors where they can experience discoveries through the use of all five senses - a complete submersion into situational awareness that simply does not occur indoors.  Physical, mental, spiritual discoveries happen outdoors.  Get outside, it is good for humans everywhere.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Always Something to Learn

 “I don’t know how to do that.” is a common phrase we hear at the beginning of Nevada Outdoor School camps.  From putting up a tent to using a compass, there is a lot to learn in order to recreate responsibility outdoors! 

Our Adventure Camps serve kids ages 8 - 10 years old, which means most of these campers are entering 3rd thru 5th grade.  For many, spending four full days’ outdoors, including one overnight adventure stretches kiddos into things like a new appreciation of shade and water, while also instilling confidence by allowing them the opportunity to learn how to set up their own tent and help cook their dinner.  

Elko Adventure Camp #2 campers work together to set up their tent in at the Neff Campground in Ruby Valley

All four of our Adventure Camps (3 in Elko and 1 in Winnemucca) have been completed; summer is flying by!  We are deeply grateful for the Neff Family of Ruby Valley who donates their private campground for the overnight adventure for our Elko Crew, and for the use of Water Canyon in Winnemucca.

At every Nevada Outdoor School there is a stewardship project, because at Nevada Outdoor School part of our mission is to be good stewards of our habitat, which means doing things and making choices to enhance or protect the space and place in which we live.  In order to be the steward (care-taker) of anything, one must learn about the thing that needs caring for.  Caring for something also requires a connect to the thing.  In order to learn and care, there must also be exposure to the thing.  That is why Nevada Outdoor School gets kids outside.  When kids spend time outside they are naturally curious about the space and place they are in, so they begin to learn about it.  Then, once they start learning about it, they start to care about it.  As a connected person, because they have learned and care, with the outdoors and nature, they naturally begin to make choices that have positive impacts on nature and/or themselves. 

Trash pick-up is always one stewardship project that we can count on.  This is unfortunate because it means there is a lot of trash on the ground, but it also provides an easy and meaningful opportunity for kids to see the difference their effort makes.  In addition, it helps campers clearly understand the connection between an action (littering) and an impact on a place, and how choices impact themselves and others.  Dispose of waste properly in one of the seven Leave No Trace Principles that we teach at Nevada Outdoor School.  

 

Each Nevada Outdoor School camp has a stewardship component where campers get to do a task that improves their habitat.  Trash clean up is always an option.

By learning about trash, and how long trash takes to decompose camps become more aware of the trash they generate and the trash around them.  Imagine what might happen if we all used one less sandwich bag each week?  That would be 52 less plastic bags being thrown away, times millions of people -- that would be a lot less waste!  Learning helps us be more aware, and can change our behavior.

Through learning, caring, and connecting each of us has an important role to play in being good stewards of our habitat.  Want to learn more about Nevada Outdoor School programs?  Visit nevadaoutdoorschool.org.  Want to learn more about the seven Leave No Trace Principles?  Visit lnt.org.  Get outside, it’s good for humans everywhere!

 

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

NOS Programming Highlight: Snakes!

 Snakes! They’re scaly, they slither, and they bite! To end the school year off right, we brought a lesson to the Winnemucca Rural Schools to educate 71 students about snake safety and common misconceptions. Students learned that snakes have important roles in our ecosystem as well as in our lives. They control pest populations in our gardens and neighborhoods, in our deserts they ensure that nothing is overrun with gophers and mice, leaving plenty of vegetation for every other critter. 

Students also learned how to identify the most common snakes in our area and what should be done if one crosses our path. Gopher snakes and Garter snakes are completely harmless as they do not carry venom, they can be identified by their slender heads. Venomous snakes like Rattlesnakes have wide diamond shaped heads, which is a feature held by most venomous snakes. When one is encountered, whether it be on a trail or in your backyard, it is best to simply walk away from the snake instead of harming the snake. Snakes are not outwardly aggressive, they will only bite if they feel threatened, walking around the snake is the best way to avoid harm done to you and the snake.

It is most common for people to be bitten on the leg/ankle and the hand by snakes. From not seeing (or hearing) the snake in the person's path and startling the snake, or attempting to catch the snake. Watching your step when walking and listening for the classic rattle and hissing sound is the best way to avoid snake bites. Catching and handling any wild snake should only be done by experienced professionals with the proper tools, as snakes are fast and dangerous, and can cause a great amount of damage. 

If someone is bitten by a snake it is extremely important to be able to identify the type of snake that bit the victim, because if it was a venomous snake, health professionals need to be able to give the proper care. Keeping the victim calm and using a tourniquet slows the rate at which the venom spreads through their body. Sucking the venom out of the wound will not help the victim, it will only introduce more bacteria into the wound.

But aside from learning to identify snakes and what to do if someone is bitten, students also got to meet a very special guest, to show that not all snakes are scary and vicious. Matthew, the Burmese Python, came to help educate the students. He is 8ft long, 50lbs of muscle, and full of love. Matthew belongs to Naturalist Kenzy Tom and partner Hunter Gayer, who helped handle and show him to the students. Matthew enjoyed meeting each student confident enough to come and give him a pat, as well as playing in the grass. He showed that snakes can be calm and patient and was an amazing Guest Educator.