Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
TETLIN: Teens Spend Summer Free Time Studying Plants
Alaska Region, October 1, 2005
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High school students studying hard and doing homework during the summer? Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Actually not; as part of their summer environmental education program, Tetlin Refuge staff, in cooperation with Alaska Gateway School District, compiled and taught a Boreal Botany class. What's Boreal Botany? It's the study of plant species found in the boreal forest. The eight students who took the course discovered through lecture, lab, and field trips the diversity of plant life in our area, plant classification and morphology, traditional uses of numerous plants, proper collection and mounting techniques, and plants’ adaptation to wildfire. The classes began on June 8th and were held at the Refuge office each Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer for 3 hours. A Challenge-Cost Share grant with the Alaska Gateway School District enabled us to buy textbooks, resource materials and to go on several field trips. Another partnership with the after-school program allowed us to get renowned botanist, Verna Pratt to spend an entire day with the class. (Since she was here, Verna also provided two community wildflower workshops.) Much of our lab time focused on plant collecting. Each student was required to properly collect, press, mount, and label 50 plant species. Our field trips, a raft trip on the Fortymile River and a botanical hike in Denali National Park, gave the students the chance to study adaptations of plants to fire, effects of fire on plant communities and alpine plants. The assistance of the Botany Department at Denali was greatly appreciated. A parent's night brought our class to a close with a simple barbeque, plant collection displays and a plant scavenger hunt with students paired with their parents! Each student received one full high school science credit for the class and lab.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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