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!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Toys and Nature

A toy can be a wonderful thing for a child, and as we approach the Holiday Season, toys may be the first thing on the minds of children everywhere.  Toys can be a source of inspiration, entertainment, creative play, family togetherness, and the development of cognitive reasoning, social and fine motor skills.  The question I am pondering today is: Do toys need to come at the expense of time spent in nature? 

Looking again at that list of benefits, I see no reason that nature cannot do the same.  In fact, I have witnessed this to be true during my time with Nevada Outdoor School as well as in my personal life.

However, there is an advertisement that was run by Toys ‘R’ Us® recently that might suggest otherwise.  You can watch that ad here: Toys R Us Ad

Many of us in the outdoor education profession are quite disappointed that Toys ‘R’ Us® chose to run this.  What a great opportunity for a group of children, providing them with a toy of their choosing, but what benefit comes from taking a shot at outdoor education and time spent in nature?

Outdoor education is certainly not boring as these smiling faces will attest too:

Adventure Camp II

In addition to having fun, studies show that these children will have greater academic success, lowered risk for childhood obesity and related diseases, improvement in attention disorders and stronger social skills.  Their time outdoors has increased the impact of what they learn in the classroom and helped to make solid connections to topics in science and ecology.  Nevada Outdoor School’s programming is engaging, hands-on and inquiry based.  We tend to sing songs on the bus as opposed to memorizing photos of leaves.

There is a lot more that could be said about all of this.  We could turn it into a big battle between commercialism and the environment, or comment on the billions of dollars spent marketing to children each year to the point where their ability to recall corporate brands and logos is astounding.  However, I think a simple conclusion is best: Toys can be great, spending time in nature is great, both should be a part of every child’s life and they don’t need to compete.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Archery, macro-invertebrates, marbles, and skits what more could you ask for?

These are just a few of the exciting experiences had while camping at Lye Creek last week for Adventure Camp 2.

This past week (July 16th-20th) was one of the greatest experiences I have had since coming to Nevada last September. I was able to watch a group of strangers come together over the course of team building activities and games to become a cohesive team, expanding their interest and knowledge of the outdoors. Their enthusiasm to be outdoors and to simply explore the world around them reminds me of something Enos Mills (often referred to as “Father of Rocky Mountain National Park”) once said:

Often, the chief incentive that starts a child toward the acquiring of an education is interest in this fairyland of Nature. Interest is the highroad to education. Interest the mind and it will grow like a garden."

It is inspiring to see children, in this age of technology and constant electronic connection, to be interested in picking up rocks in a creek and studying the insects living there. No words I know can wholly describe the feeling at hearing their laughter and shouts of excitement over a new discovery.
Do you remember what it was like exploring as a child?

If you had asked me this question last week at this time I would have responded with “I kind of remember….it’s a little fuzzy. I remember I had fun though.” After witnessing the campers exploring it brought me back to my childhood and I began remembering things; remembering the feeling of the cool creek water on my grandparent’s farm, the sound of a thousand insects singing, the rustling of large oak leaves, the smell of grass and earth, and a pure sense of place. I was filled with a sense of belonging, a sense of adventure.

Summer camps are always filled with fun, games, songs, and new experiences, but encounters like the ones listed above are what I live for as a Naturalist. These are the experiences get campers to start asking questions, start wanting to know more and more and more and more…
These experiences help spark the imagination and ignite the desire to learn, not just about the natural world, but about life.
Join the experience. Take a leaf out of our children’s books: Get out and explore.

Take care.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Friends, Games, and Crafts – OH MY!

Adventure Camp I

Nevada Outdoor School had the first of our Summer Camp programs, Adventure Camp I last week. And WOW – what a week it was! During the five-day day camp program, the 21 campers and our NOS Staff learned about Teamwork, Animals, Adventure, Space, and Water.

The campers and staff enjoyed all the games that were played over numerous days including Mini Tank, Toilet Tag, Ninjas Attack, along with many others.  But I think the highlights of everyone’s time at camp was swimming on the first day and when Professor Doug Hogan took the time to show the campers and staff some of his snakes, and his furry friends as well.

It was such a wonderful experience for myself, as the camp coordinator, to see the campers really grow from the beginning of the camp to the final day. During the five days of Adventure Camp I, the NOS Staff gave the Adventure Camp participants many challenges that they had to complete together. By the end of the week, the whole group had become a united force, and was able to complete the challenges that were put in front them. The campers became masters at One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, where they used team work and stealth to get a stuffed animal from a NOS Instructor to their starting line without being caught. I was also really proud of all the campers for accomplishing the Hula Hoop Challenge and getting everyone to pass each of the individual Hula Hoops around the circle and hold each other’s hands at the same time. The campers got so good, that at the second day they could pass around two Hula Hoops at the same time.

 All our Adventure Campers really had a good time during our Water Canyon trip, hiking around and learning more about Water Canyon. They got to see a lot of the canyon, and learned some new games on the trail. The kids also got to learn more about how to follow Leave No Trace, and helped the NOS Staff to wash dishes and build a fire. The next day, everyone participated in activities about space and pulled out all kinds of crafty skills to draw planets, aliens, and so much more!

I’m so glad I got to spend all five days with such an awesome group of kids. I think everyone at camp really appreciated one another, and grew together. All the kids came away from camp with new friends, new knowledge from our themes, and a better understanding of the world around them. I hope all the campers continue to use their energy and excitement to continue learning and growing.

Rock on!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Everyone Loves a Fair!

"Rat Island" Habitats Booth at the Ecology Fair
Nevada Outdoor School hosted an “Ecology Fair” for fourth grade students in Winnemucca last week.  This event took place at the Winnemucca Community Garden over the course of two days and was a great success!

Ecology Fair represented a new idea for Nevada Outdoor School in which we wanted to put an exciting spin on the traditional field trip model.  The goal was to provide students with an opportunity to investigate, discover, and learn about ecology through hands-on, interactive and self-guided exploration.  The event ran for two hours.  Students participated in a 30 minute scavenger hunt, 30 minute Project Learning Tree Activity and explored the fair for 1 hour.  Before going to the fair, students were each issued a passport book which they took around with them and received stickers from presenters for successfully participating at their booth.  Students were encouraged to go to as many booths and get as many stickers as possible, learn as much as they could and have fun. 

Staff from various partner agencies such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP), as well as community volunteers came together to run hands-on, interactive booths covering a wide variety of ecological topics including fire, water quality, wildlife, soil, vermicomposting and noxious weeds.  During their hour at the fair, students wandered freely around the different booths and took control of their own learning. 
It was amazing to see students so excited to get to their next booth and learn something new.  Many wanted to stay longer and one student even asked if the fair would be there that weekend so she could come back. 

Everyone loves a fair!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The New Environmental Education is Good for All of Us

Some thoughts from our Executive Director on the current state of Environmental Education:

Twenty years ago, the term Environmental Education left a sour taste in most people’s mouths.  Perhaps it still does for some, but it shouldn’t.  Most everyone in my current profession will agree that Environmental Education hasn’t always been done well and in the 1980’s and 90’s, even when it was; the term had been hijacked in popular culture by agenda-based organizations and lobbying groups.  Moreover, anything accompanied by the word environmental was often assumed to indicate a negative for industry, agriculture or progress in general.  It is long overdue for us to recommit to the word ‘environment’ for what it really is, the space in which we all live and rely upon as an endless provider.  From the space to go hunting or enjoy a hot spring soak, clean air to breathe and water to drink, to the soil to grow our food and minerals to fuel our economy; all of this is our environment and we need to know it well.  More than know it, it needs to impassion us and especially our youth.

We all know that increasing population, along with demands for natural resources and energy are all posing new and complex problems for our environment.  Problems that we don’t fully understand, problems that grow in importance with each new generation, problems that our children and children’s children will need to have the skills and passion to find innovative solutions for.  This is where the new environmental education comes in. 

EE in Action, Lamoille Canyon, Nevada

The first thing that Environmental Education (EE) does is simply to get children into the environment, the natural environment that is, outdoors.  The average American child currently spends more than 6 hours per day looking at an electronic screen, be it a computer, television, video game or phone.  That number will disturb most parents who grew up spending their free time involved in creative outdoor play.  Besides the lack of real connection to the environment, this problem, which has been coined nature-deficit disorder, has many other negative implications.  It has taken some time to gather data, but studies have now linked lack of time spent outdoors to childhood obesity, attention deficit disorder, low Vitamin D (produced from sunlight) levels, near-sightedness and lack of cooperation and conflict resolution skills.  These studies continue to mount.  Scientists in Finland have recently announced they have found a connection between children who do not play outside and thus are not exposed to various microbes found in soil have higher rates of allergy/autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

Once children have ventured outside of the classroom, or their front door, they can be engaged in place-based education.  This important aspect of EE simply means that students should first learn about the environment with which they are most familiar, their place.  Should we expect a student in northern Nevada to truly connect with the rainforest or Arctic Ocean if they have not had the opportunity to connect with the high desert environment which they can see and touch every day?  Probably not.

Another guiding principle of the new EE is inquiry.  The inquiry approach to learning teaches children how to think, not what to think.  Viewing the environment from the scientific perspective, inquiry learning strengthens investigative, observation and analytical thinking skills as students seek their own answers to problems.  Inquiry helps students take their current level of understanding and make new conclusions based on observation and experimentation.  There is no one chained to a tree in the new environmental education.

Environmental Education does not mean time away from academics. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  All traditional subject matter can be taught with the environment as a classroom and model.  Environmental curriculum is designed to meet state and national academic standards and studies have shown that learning outdoors increases overall academic performance in core subjects.  Even classroom-based environmental education has tremendous benefits.  In our very own French Ford Middle School (FFMS), standards-based EE curriculum was one of several changes implemented a few years ago to combat struggling science scores on standardized testing.  Since that time, FFMS has shown a drastic turnaround in this area.  It is important not only for students to gain skills and an understanding of science but to be inspired by it.  Seeing science applied to streams, plants, soil, etcetera, in a natural environment, helps to do this. 

The inspiration that Environmental Education can provide is crucial to reverse the falling number of students enrolling in higher education and pursuing careers in science and natural resources.  We desperately need bright young people to do just that, to be the next generation of environmental or agricultural scientists, engineers or land managers.  Those young people need to be prepared to solve complex environmental issues, to steward the land and create good policy.  The decisions they make will ultimately be theirs, but they should have a solid foundation on which to make them through this new style of EE.

Now, this new EE isn’t really all that new.  It has been gaining momentum for some time now.  It has been present in Winnemucca and Humboldt County for the past 10 years.  I am proud of what Nevada Outdoor School has done thus far for local youth and families.  I know of no other community our size anywhere which has the same breadth and volume of environmental and outdoor education programming available.  And for a community which has such a history of connection to and reliance upon the environment as we do, be it for work or play, why shouldn’t we?  I think we all want to see the tradition continue with our children at the forefront, to see a strong balance between conservation, outdoor recreation and our need to use the land.  Environmental Education will help; it is good for all of us.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Summer Camp Memories

While folks here at Nevada Outdoor School are spending a lot of time looking forward to summer camps in 2013, we also thought it might be fun to look back a few years at some of our most exciting, funny or otherwise memorable moments from our own childhood summer camps. Here's what a few of us had to say:

Seafoam (Brenna): I have countless fond memories from when I was young at summer camps. Some of my very best friends (that I still have today) are people that I met at summer camp. Not only did I enjoy making new friends, I also reflect back on the opportunities I had to explore, get dirty, swim in the lake, learn valuable outdoor skills, sing songs constantly, and much more! However, most of all I looked forward to the campfire program. Campfire was a time where I laughed so hard I cried and often times my fellow campers were having the same reaction. It's a time that you can let loose through song, skits, and stories while feeling powerful camaraderie and togetherness. The best campfires are the ones where the counselors act silly and encourage everyone else to join them. I cherish these memories and can't wait to build new ones with NOS campers this summer!

NOS Staff and Campers Getting Silly at Campfire Program

Juice (Andy): A couple of things really stick in my mind when it comes to the summer camps of my childhood. For one, I had always had a fascination with sailboats as a child and I was really excited to finally get the opportunity at Boy Scout camp one summer to earn my sailing merit badge. Most of the course was on land: knots, vocabulary, concepts. But we finally got the boats out briefly one day and it was fantastic. The final day that week was to be the regatta, a short out and back race against other campers to crown the best sailors. Teams of two took to the boats and mine was near the front on the outward leg, some confusion on the turn however led our boat astray. To this day, I am still not sure how, but we ended up in some sort of doldrums in a small cove of the lake unable to gain any momentum, watching, dejectedly as all of the other boats rounded the buoy and headed back to the finish. After about 30 minutes, we were finally rescued by the motor boat. I did not remain discouraged from sailing for long however and went on to earn my RYA Day Skipper Certification a few years ago.

Another memory I have is of a game. I don't know if it even had a name, but we concluded camp one year with an epic battle in which two teams competed in a roped off rectangle in the deep swimming area of the lake. The goal was to get a greased watermelon into a goal at either end of the rectangle. There were no other rules.

Our Executive Director Getting His Silly On

Wildrose (Cathy): My childhood camp memories are of sitting around the campfire and toasting marshmallows to make smores and singing camp songs. My favorite song was Going on a Bear Hunt.

A slightly more recent camp memory I have is when I was a Girl Scout leader for my then 7, now 23 year old’s Brownie troop. We took our troop on an overnight camping trip to the beach in San Pedro, California. We camped in tents (a first for many girls, including my own daughter) and roasted marshmallows for smores and the really neat unplanned part of the trip was that someone was on the beach with a powerful telescope and all the girls got to look at Jupiter through the telescope. This was a neat experience for a bunch of city girls who rarely see many stars due to all of the city lights.

Jive (Jessie): One of my memories from summer camp is from girl scout camp when I was little. It was a mother/daughter camp out in cabins over Mother's Day weekend. Someone had taken a Polaroid picture of my mom and I standing in front of this HUGE tree. Later in the day, during craft time I made a picture frame and put the picture inside. It felt like such a special present to give my mom (which, of course, she loved) because it was not just a present but a shared experience.

What are your favorite memories from camp? Feel free to share!

Friday, March 15, 2013

AmeriCorps Week

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend a 40 hour week serving your community and earning less than minimum wage for your efforts?  That is exactly what thousands of AmeriCorps members do each year all over the country.  Next week, we honor those members for their dedication and hard work during AmeriCorps Week, March 9-17.

 800,000 people have served with AmeriCorps since it began in 1994.  These people have provided one billion hours of service in communities all over the United States, serving with 15,000 non-profit, faith-based, and community organizations.

AmeriCorps Member Brenna Archibald Inspires Local Students
In Nevada, there are over 300 AmeriCorps members serving with AmeriCorps funded programs.  Most of the programs receive funding from Nevada Volunteers, the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism for the state of Nevada, who receive a federal grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.  Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) is one of the programs funded by Nevada Volunteers.  The NOS AmeriCorps program serves rural northern Nevada so AmeriCorps members are spread from Gerlach to Wells, but most members serve in Winnemucca. Currently, there are eleven members serving in nine different non-profit, faith-based, or community organizations. 

You may recognize AmeriCorps members by the shirts they wear bearing the AmeriCorps logo.  They have put in more than 6,000 hours of service in the communities of Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Wells and Gerlach since September, 2012.  Current members are: Brenna Archibald, serving at both Nevada Outdoor School and Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Tanya Baxter, serving at the Winnemucca Community Garden, Ashley Hanson, serving at the Wells Family Resource Center, Julie Hepp and Steve Thompson, serving at NOS, Julie Holland, serving with Lander County School District, Barbara Ludington, serving at the Pleasant Senior Center, Joe McDonald and Terra Webber, both serving at Humboldt Volunteer Hospice, Michael Myers, serving at Friends of Black Rock High Rock, and Brian Nelson, serving with Winnemucca Ministerial Association at the Soup Kitchen and Food Bank.  If you see any of these members serving around the community, take a moment to thank them for their continuing dedication and hard work.
By Cathy Yates

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wonderful Wetlands

As a Naturalist with Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) I am given opportunities to work with a variety of audiences, plan events, and assist with education programming. This past month I was given the opportunity to test my hand at lesson development and implementation for an after school program in Elko, called Fun Factory.

To begin the process, I started with a simple question: “What am I interested in?” After a lot of contemplation, I chose to focus on Wetlands. Next came the difficult part: How do I engage children from different age groups (K-4) and still accomplish the goal for students to discover benefits wetlands have for humans and animals.
Keeping this goal in mind, three stations were developed: 1) Water Filtration, 2) Flooding Station, and 3) Water Fowl Shuffle.
1)      Water Filtration focused on how water infiltrates the ground in different environments and how soil filters that water. Students observed demonstrations showing how water infiltrates urban and natural landscapes, and then created their own wetland soil water filters.

2)      Flooding Station focused on how wetlands absorb water and can protect homes/communities from flood events. Students were given two graham cracker houses and materials to construct two landscapes: One landscape of their choosing and one wetland landscape. Water was poured into each landscape to represent a flood event.  This demonstrated the impact floods have on homes when wetlands are present and when they are not.

3)      Water Fowl Shuffle was split into three sub-stations:
1.      Mounts
Students used clue cards to identify different waterfowl/bird mounts and discovered fun facts about the birds. Students investigated the mounts using touch and sight.
2.      Beaks and Bills
Students selected cards representing waterfowl and based on pictures discovered the type of food the bird eats. They then chose a utensil representing the bird’s beak or bill. Students used the utensil to collect the bird’s food from a kiddy pool filled with water.
3.      Migration
Students acted out the migration process of several waterfowl species and experienced how wetlands are rest stops for these migratory species. At the wetland rest stop area students researched more about waterfowl and wetlands from books provided. 

This was the first program I developed completely from scratch and it was a great success! Nearly a month was spent on brainstorming, experimenting, discussing, and writing up these activities. Without the help of my fellow naturalists, guidance from High Five (our Education Coordinator), and materials from the Northeastern Nevada Museum this program would not have been such a success.

It was amazing to see all the smiles, hear the laughter, and to simply be surrounded by so many engaged people. I set the bar high for myself on this one and it will be difficult to match in the future!

Take care.
-          Cheddar

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Summer Plans

How is your summer looking?  Have you thought that far ahead yet?  I’m sure most of you have, maybe without even realizing it, I sure have.  Winter’s grip is weakening, the days are growing longer and occasionally surprise us with their warmth and I can’t help but let my mind wander a bit to what I might be doing on beautiful day this summer.  It might be something simple, a bike ride after work or a softball game, or I might start thinking about a tentative backpacking trip.  Whatever it is at the time, I have been looking at the summer as being wide open.  Then, recently, a need to set firm dates for a Nevada Outdoor School function made me think a bit more specifically about what my personal schedule looked like for the next six months or so.   It soon became apparent that I had been making plans for this summer for longer than I remembered.  There is a family reunion, that back packing trip, visits to Nevada from friends and family, plenty of NOS fun, oh and maybe a rafting trip, of course some peak bagging, and a recommitment to do more rock climbing this year.  All of the sudden, my summer is looking pretty full; especially if I want to keep a few weekends open for down time, or an impromptu barbeque. 

It's always summer in southern Nevada, our Executive Director found some
inspiration while hiking in the Spirit Mountain Wilderness recently.
So, before your summer is full to the brim, make sure you have thought about some of the things that are the most important to you.  And while you’re at it, maybe think about trying something new.  NOS has plenty of ideas.  We would love for you to join us at the 5th Annual Buckaroo Dutch Oven Cook-Off and NOS 10 Year Birthday Bash on August 24th.  Another great idea would be to join us and our partners for a volunteer conservation project.  These volunteer events are a great way to see a part of Nevada you may never have been to, feel a sense of accomplishment in giving back to your public lands, make new friends and enjoy the camaraderie of working in the dirt together.

A few other ideas just randomly pitched in from folks in the office today, in case you are in need of inspiration: raft a new river, visit San Francisco, camp in Yosemite, climb the highest point in New Mexico, hike the Ruby Crest Trail, run a charity 5k, grow an herb garden, ride in a hot air balloon, visit the ocean, participate in a multi-sport race, float somewhere, hike somewhere, explore Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, ride an ATV…

What’s on your list?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Super Bowl of Food

Alright football fans and food enthusiasts, get excited!!
It’s finally that magical time of year again, when we come together to yell at TV screens, laugh at crazy commericals, and feast!
That’s right, this Sunday is the Super Bowl!
All of us here at NOS would like to share with you some of our favorite recipes to chow down on this weekend. 
So grab a pen and paper, sit yourself down, and get ready to be inspired:

Ranch Pretzels (from Steve)

1 pound bag of pretzel twists or sticks
1 pouch of ranch seasoning
6 to 8 ounces of Orville Redenbackers butter flavored popcorn oil (1 bottle will make two batches)
Combine seasoning pouch and 6-8 ounces of oil in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag or a large bowl and mix well. Then, add a bag of pretzels to the Ziploc bag or bowl and mix well so the mix covers the pretzels. Keep open for some time and mix every so often to allow them to dry.

Pulled Pork Sliders (from Mel)

1/2 cup apricot preserves
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 red onion, sliced
2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon 
8 small rolls, split 8 leaves green-leaf lettuce
In a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, whisk together the apricot preserves and vinegar; stir in the onion. Season the pork with the cumin and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Nestle the pork among the onions. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours, covered, until pork is tender and easily pulls apart. Using 2 forks, shred the pork and stir it into the cooking liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker. Form sliders with the rolls, lettuce, and pork. Serve with potato chips, if desired.

Fried Pork Potato Skins (from Steve)

How to Make Classic Potato Skins:
Pierce 4 large russet potatoes with a fork. Bake directly on the oven rack at 350 degrees until tender, for about 1 hour. Let cool, then quarter lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Brush both sides with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Bake, skin-side up, at 450 degrees until crisp, about 15 minutes. Add your favorite team toppings. (For cheesy skins, flip the baked shells over before topping, sprinkle with 1 cup grated cheddar cheese and bake an extra 5 minutes.)

Toppings: Mayonnaise mixed with mustard and hot sauce, sliced fried pork cutlets, chopped tomato and diced red onion

Chicken Chili (from Julie)

Prep Time:         Cook Time:          Level: Easy         Serves: 6 Servings
15 min.               1 hr 45 min

4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
1/8 cup minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
4 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add basil to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin, and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

Whether your team wins or loses this Sunday, your belly will be happy no matter what.
From everyone at NOS, Happy Super Bowl and Happy Eating!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reflection on MLK Day Service

On Saturday, January 19th, Nevada Outdoor School AmeriCorps members planned and implemented a 5K Run/Walk in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  In 1994, the Federal Government designated Martin Luther King Jr. day as a national day of service with a theme of “a day on, not a day off”.  In keeping with that theme, NOS AmeriCorps members coordinated with Winnemucca agencies, asking them to participate in a registration process during the morning before the scheduled noon 5K.  During the registration process, 5K participants were to choose a volunteer opportunity, committing to a minimum of 2 hours of service in lieu of a fee to run or walk.  With a high of about 18 degrees on that day, we were lucky to have 20 participants in the 5K and in addition we had about 7 more people who signed up to volunteer, but didn’t want to run or walk in such frigid and icy conditions.  AmeriCorps member Brenna Archibald reflects on MLK day below:
        In preparing for our Martin Luther King Jr. Day event I was often reminded of what service is, and all Dr. King stood for.  We were able to prepare posters with inspirational quotes by Dr. King as well as write press releases highlighting the importance of MLK Day.  Through our preparation we were provided multiple opportunities to work with local community members, business owners, and city officials.  It’s easy in planning or participating in an event like this, to get caught up in everything that needs to be done.  By striving to make sure of the event’s success, it was easy (at times) to lose sight of what we were really hoping to do for our community as the northern Nevada AmeriCorps team.  Acknowledging this idea personally reminded me of our objective for the event: to bring the community together and contribute to local agency’s abilities to recruit local volunteers.  

        The turnout for the event felt successful in meeting our ultimate goal and for me, it was incredible to touch base with community members who were excited about volunteering their time for a local agency.  Service is “the act of helping or doing work for someone”, and during our MLK Day event we had various local community members commit to doing a “service” and volunteering their time.  Their selflessness and support of the event in general, made the preparation and hard work well worth it.  These are the people in our community that best reminded me of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his ability to serve, inspire, positively impact, and lead.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Winnemucca’s Wildlife - Winter Weather Woes

You don’t have to look at the thermometer to know its COLD outside.  Winter is supposed to be cold… but this cold? For this long? 
Last Thursday, the heat at my house stopped working.  With temperatures for the coming nights forecasted below zero, it was a pretty big problem.  Luckily, thanks to the generosity of my co-workers (letting me borrow space heaters) and the wonderful timely response of the repair man, we were only in the cold for two nights and able to have some source of heat during that time.  However, it was still CRAZY COLD and made me realize how ill-adapted humans are to dealing with such harsh winter conditions.  It also made me think about the wildlife constantly exposed to these outdoor conditions and if they are well adapted enough to handle these temperatures. 
So I did some research…

I wanted to know if the winter conditions we have been experiencing this season are affecting animals in our area differently than typical winter conditions (duration of snow cover, ground frost, etc.).  Also, I was curious if this harsh winter will have a big impact on the typical amount of winter kill (animals deceased due to winter conditions) that occurs and how this will impact our desert ecosystem. 

I talked with a Biology professor at Great Basin Community College and a Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) employee.  What I learned was that all types of extreme weather conditions (heat and cold) put stress on wildlife.  The biggest issue with cold temperatures is an animal’s nutrition.  The low amount of rainfall we received this past year created poor foraging conditions for wildlife to prepare for winter.  There is no doubt that this prolonged cold is a stressor to animals.  However, there probably isn’t any increased stress on the subnivean (under the snow) environment.  For animals living above the snow, outside conditions dictate the rate at which they lose precious fat reserves.  Animals are using most of their energy to stay warm, making it hard to forage.  NDOW has also observed animals moving upslope because of the current temperature inversion, where higher elevations are warmer.  Basically, the amount of winter kill will likely be much more than usual and those animals that do make it through this winter are likely to come out of it in pretty poor conditions.  How this will affect our desert ecosystem is yet to be seen. 
Just things to think about….
Stay warm,


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Monday, January 7, 2013

How Natural are Idioms?

I hope that everyone had a wonderful and fun Holiday Season and a fantastic New Year. 

If your Holidays were anything like mine, then I’m sure you have many stories and fun experiences to share with your friends and co-workers.  One experience that stands out from my break involves the use of an idiom and how sometimes those fun figurative phrases don’t translate well and make you seem pretty crazy.  For me, it involved a cut on my hand and upon being asked what happened replying very casually, “Oh, I ate it.”  The look of horror and then confusion prompted me to explain further that “I fell while I was running.”  It was funny and we both had a good laugh.  It also prompted me to think about idioms we commonly hear or use, especially those relating to nature.  Sometimes idioms are easy to understand but others are clear as mud.  If you’re pretty down to earth and able to go with the flow then figuring out what someone means when they use an idiom is probably a piece of cake.  However, if understanding idioms isn’t second nature to you, you might find yourself barking up the wrong tree and being told to get out of town. 

I hope this blog doesn’t find you under the weather.  From everyone at NOS we wish you all the best and encourage you to take a hike (literally, not like the idiom… See, it’s tricky!)

HAPPY 2013,