Place-based education (PBE) engages students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, and experiences. In northern Nevada, there is a wide variety of locations where PBE can be utilized due to our position in history with, for example the railroad and the emigrant trails, as well as our unique ecosystem. We live in a location ripe for PBE!
Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) embraces utilizing PBE through our outdoor lessons and field experiences taught to K-4 grade students by our AmeriCorps Naturalists. Our Nature In My World program capitalizes on the place-based experiential learning approach that expands youth’s horizons related to exploring and learning about the natural world. Kindergartners begin exploring the natural world right outside their classroom, on their school grounds. First graders explore their local neighborhood, typically in the form of nature walk. Second graders have the opportunity to travel to a local park. Third and fourth graders’ horizons are expanded when they visit a community or county recreation area.
AmeriCorps Naturalist, Macy leading 1st grade students in a graphing activity while investigating signs of fall.
From there, the expansion continues with NOS. While we are not currently consistently in classrooms for grades higher than 4th grade, we do provide after-school programming and summer camp opportunities that take students to regional natural treasures such as Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. In the summer of 2021, our fleet racked up over 8,000 miles transporting kids to national treasures found in Great Basin National Park and Lassen Volcanic National Park. Watching kids who have never left their county experience “the world” is a rewarding experience!
The best thing about Nevada Outdoor School is that we do not only teach kids - we teach kids of all ages, 0 - 99+. Why is that important? Why do we want to be life-long learners and continue to expand our horizons as adults? Because learning about new locations, as well as improving or learning outdoor skills may just save your life, or the life of a loved one.
With over 640 million acres of federal land, which includes national parks, national forests, and Bureau of Land Management property, not to mention all the private land, there are a lot of places to get lost or hurt in the United States. Each year many people go missing, for a variety of reasons, and many never known, but chances are many of the “lost” cases are the result of not having or knowing how to correctly use navigational tools. The reliance on electronic GPS systems is often the culprit. While fantastic tools, they only work as well as the batteries in them or the technological support they can connect to. An old fashion topographical map and compass can get you out of a canyon, if you know how to use it.
Although the natural world is an amazing place to explore, it doesn’t come without risk. Each year, people get lost and many people are injured as a result of outdoor recreation. Proper planning, training and knowledge are proactive and effective ways to help you and your loved ones stay safe. Learning about essential contents of a first aid kit, how to actively practice Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly! and outdoor survival skills are great steps to take. Don’t worry, NOS has you covered, come learn with us!
Check out nevadaoutdoorschool.org for our upcoming outdoor skill offerings, as well as our community events. Get outside, expand your horizons, it is good for humans everywhere.