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!

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