Wind River, Moran kids spend the day as forest rangers and wildlife biologists

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Children laughed as they pulled the crosscut saw threw a log, stared in awe of the slimy salamander and shrieked as a bear (biologist in costume) emerged from the woods. This was the scene at the first-ever Blackrock Field Camp yesterday. While all of the activities were educational, the kids likely didn't feel like they were in school and instead playing in the forest with their friends. The Bridger-Teton Forest Service hosted this event to bring children into the forest for a day of fun, learning and fresh air. Approximately 130 4th graders from the Wind River Reservation; Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Nations, and K-5 students from the Moran Elementary School. The event included multiple interactive learning stations: *This is Bear Country* *[image: Inline image 1]* Wildlife biologists spoke to the kids about how to identify different kids of bears, talked about where the bears live and explained what to do if you see a bear in the wilderness. The kids got to touch different bear pelts and a lucky few even got to try out using bear spray! *Aquatic Insects & Water Quality* *[image: Inline image 2]* What better way to learn about animals and insects than right up close? Graduate student Leah Swartz showed the kids a salamander and frogs from the nearby pond. They also got to examine tadpoles up close and try their hand at estimating populations. *Wilderness, Stock, & Crosscuts* *[image: Inline image 4]* "Chainsaws aren't allowed in the forest," said one of the presenters as he held up a large, sharp and mean-looking crosscut saw. The kids then got to try their had at sawing a log the old-fashioned way. After sawing off their "cookie" (slice of wood), they went and watched it get branded for a fun take-home souvenir. Across the field, children learned about why the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is so special. *Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Story Telling* *[image: Inline image 3]* Sitting around a fire and overlooking the river, the children listened to the speakers talk about respect for the wilderness and native american folk lore. Even lunch had entertainment. The Teton Raptor Center presented several of their birds of prey to the students and answered several of the questions they had. "We were thrilled with the success of the first Blackrock Field Camp. It exceeded our expectations in how it excited the youth about their natural surroundings and the many uses of the National Forests," said Mary Cernicek, Public Affairs Officer for the Bridger-Teton National Forest. "The employees who worked to host the event felt a strong responsibility to the future generations and are looking forward to providing this opportunity again and again and improving the field camp each year." #buckrail #news