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, January 29, 2018

Teaching Children the Wonders of Wildlife

As a child growing up in the Shawnee National Forest, I was fortunate to live in an area that was very rural and relatively untouched by development. One of the advantages of this was being surrounded by a large variety of wildlife. My family would spend hours in the outdoors camping, hiking, and exploring. As I got older and began to hunt, camp, and explore by myself, I was able to gain a deeper appreciation of the opportunities around me. I’d spend hours in the forests and swamps not just hunting, but watching the wildlife around me. I would begin to notice things like deer growing their winter coats and shedding the velvet off their antlers. Turkeys would begin to gobble in the spring in search of a mate. It was these instances where I gained some of my best memories like watching a mother bobcat and her kittens walk down a creek bed, an albino otter swimming in the creek beside me, an owl landing on a tree branch right next to me. They made an already great experience even better. 

One of our goals is to provide children with opportunities for similar experiences. In a world that has become so driven by technology, it’s sometimes easy to get sidetracked and forget to take a step back to enjoy nature and wildlife. Fortunately, we can take several steps to remedy this. Teaching children how to respect and act around wildlife is essential. Staying still, quiet, and at a distance can make great photo opportunities, as well as let your child see how wildlife act and behave. Encourage your child to ask questions and research the things about wildlife that they find interesting. As a young hunter, I was curious as to why animals behaved and acted in certain ways.

Setting aside a time for you and your children to enjoy some type of nature activity can have many benefits as well. Whether it’s taking them on a hike, fishing, or camping, you’ll find that it can be nice to break away from the monotony of your everyday routine. Find activities that interest your children. When it gets colder in the winter, show them how animals begin to grow their winter coats or change colors. Try to spot different types of animals and have your child draw them. Go on a night hike and listen for owls and coyotes. Learning what makes our children establish a connection to the outdoors can be the key to helping them develop new hobbies and interests. 

Happy Trails!


Monday, January 22, 2018

How to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s that time of year again, the clouds are hanging dark and heavy, and the wind takes another ten degrees from the already cold temperatures.  Bleak winter weather can drag even the most enthusiastic outdoor adventurer down into a case of the winter blues. However, if you properly prepare for the bitter temperatures, winter time offers a variety of fun and unique outdoor experiences and opportunities.

One of the most popular ways to get outside in the winter is to hit the slopes.  But if skiing or snowboarding isn’t for you, there are plenty of other opportunities to get outdoors in the winter. One of my favorite things to do in the spring and summer is to get out and camp with my dogs and husband, and with just a few adjustments, and a little extra gear, it is something that we can still enjoy in the winter. Even without an expensive four season tent, you can take advantage of winter camping opportunities via public service cabins or Yurts, like the one in water Canyon!  Another favorite outdoor activity of mine is to hike. Winter hiking can be challenging when there’s a lot of snow, and special considerations for footwear may be necessary for traction. If the trail is particularly icy or snowy, pick up a pair of traction cleats, or give snowshoeing a try (If you’re not ready to commit to buying a pair of snow shoes, you can always rent a pair from NOS)! Another great way to get outside in the winter months is to enjoy a soak in some of the natural hot springs Nevada has to offer. Make sure to bring warm dry clothes to change into after you hop out. Some other great winter time outdoor activities include, sledding, ice skating, or if you prefer OHV’s, snowmobiling! 

When getting outdoors this winter, be sure to travel on durable surfaces, like established trails, and packed snow, avoid recreating on sloppy muddy terrain if possible.  Make sure you are prepared for the elements, by wearing the appropriate layers and gear. Bring a map and use it, it can be easy to lose the trail in even a few inched of snow. Oh, and have fun! The possibilities are endless, so throw on some extra warm layers, and get outside. Don’t forget the hot cocoa! 

Happy Trails!

-Space Jam

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Education and Interpretation

This past week, I traveled to Las Vegas for a National Association of Interpretation (NAI) training.  This training took place over a four-day period and included many exercises and activities centered around interpretation as well as an open book test and formal presentation.  Overall, it was a great training and one I would definitely recommend to anyone who interacts with the public formally and/or informally to foster a sense of understanding and appreciation for a resource (educators, trail guides, naturalists, museum workers, rangers, etc.)  

As someone who has a degree in formal education and has only learned about interpretation informally through others, it was hard for me to wrap my head around “interpretation” at first.  In formal education, you have a set of standards that guide your instruction and knowledge gain is your ultimate goal.  Interpretation, simply put, forges connections between the audience and the resource (whatever you might be presenting on).  Interpretation is an interactive and entertaining two-way communication process that builds connections and sparks discussions and possible action.  Your ultimate goal isn’t necessarily knowledge gain (although that certainly can be an outcome) but more importantly leaving your audience empowered and motivated to learn more or do something because they feel a personal connection.  

At Nevada Outdoor School, many of our programs are education-based such as our classroom lessons and field trip experiences.  We work with each grade’s educational content standards (Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards) and develop lessons/field trips that relate to those standards and better help students understand those concepts.  We evaluate these programs on their effectiveness to increase concept knowledge.  However, at Nevada Outdoor School, our mission goes beyond education.  NOS inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.  We strive to connect people to the natural world through better understanding of natural systems with the goal of increasing stewardship and care for community.  Our goal isn’t just that a second grader can tell us what a watershed is, but more importantly can explain how they personally interact with their watershed on a daily basis, why clean water is important to them and how their actions can positively and negatively impact their local environment.  For this to happen, we must go beyond formal education and more into the world of interpretation.  

I believe this process of using formal education and interpretation is an important part to NOS’s education programs.  We want our kids to leave programs with a better understanding of concepts, but also with an inspired and empowered sense of caring and appreciation for the natural world!

Happy Trails!