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, 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.


 

 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Adventures Close to Home

 One of the best thing about living in northeast Nevada is that you do not have to travel far from home to find adventure!  Our region hosts numerous known, and not so well known, spots that are ripe for adventure but easy on the pocket book due to geographical proximity.  From alpine lakes in our mountain ranges to reservoirs ripe with fish to miles of ATV/OHV trails, one does not need to look far to find outdoor fun.

At the end of June, Nevada Outdoor School took to the Ruby Mountains to explore two alpine lakes with our adult and voyager (ages 14 - 17) backpacking excursions.  The adult group ventured to Griswold Lake and the voyager group explored Island Lake.  Both of these backpacking options are less than 1 hour from Elko via main roads.  Cheap and easy to get to, a win-win!

Perhaps there is a preconceived notion that one must go far and/or long to experience adventure.  While far and long may open you up into more exotic and challenging adventures, close to home adventures have a lot to offer, especially if the goal is to simply disconnect from the noise of the world and reconnect with nature.   It is interesting that in the formal definition of ‘adventure’ there is the component of “danger” or “risk” included, “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks” (Merriam-Webster).  That sounds like a lot of ‘regular’ life, dangerous and unknown!  Seems like any day can be an adventure if your mindset is right.  Therefore, there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of local destinations and calling them an adventure!

Four participants of the inaugural adult Nevada Outdoor School backpacking trip in June 2022.  Jacklyn Orr, Macy Rohr, Angela Crane, and Ashley Lavering show off the "Mountain Magnificent" awards celebrating their successful backpacking adventure.

Our adult backpacking group camped two nights about 2 miles up the Griswold Lake trail in a beautiful quasi-meadow with a great sitting rock for pondering life.  The nearby Butterfield Creek supplied an ample supply of water for filtering.  On Day 2 the group tackled the climb up to Griswold Lake, and lunch tasted that much better with the lake at our toes.  Few did a quick toe dip; the water was ice cold! 

Our voyager backpacking group hiked up to Island Lake and camped for two nights.  It was surprising how many people utilize this trail as all day long, and well into the evening hours we spied people visiting the Lake.  On Day 2 we hiked up above the lake, along the back ridge and enjoyed lunch, rock balancing, and reviewed map and compass skills.  The view from just over 10,000 ft provided a new perspective of Island Lake few receive.  

Four participants at the second annual Nevada Outdoor School Voyagers Youth Backpacking trip in June 2022.  Mickey Wallitner, Joseph Norero III, Bayley Mason, and Brandon Thran about to head back to camp after enjoying time above Island Lake.

Whenever heading out on an adventure, be it in your backyard or far, far, away, always practice the first Leave No Trace principle, Plan Ahead and Be Prepared.  For example, checking the weather and being prepared for what Mother Nature has in store is smart and will help ensure you are adequately prepared with necessary water and layers.  Do not make the mistake of thinking because you are close to home, you do not need to prepare.  Responsible outdoor recreation always includes proper preparation.

Our backpacking trips were the kick-off to our favorite time of year, “summer camp season”.  Stay tuned for recaps of our other upcoming camps.  There are still a few spaces available, visit nevadaoutdoorschool.org for all the latest details and information.