Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
ALASKA PENINSULA BECHAROF:Outdoor School Program Enjoying Spring
Alaska Region, March 24, 2014
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Student recording observations in her journal outside Bristol Bay School in Naknek.
Student recording observations in her journal outside Bristol Bay School in Naknek. - Photo Credit: Julia Pinnix/USFWS

4th and 5th graders at the Bristol Bay School in Naknek are spending time learning outside every week this spring. Teacher Felicity Powers contacted Visitor Services Manager Julia Pinnix in December to ask for a program that took her students outside. Together, they came up with a plan that combines science-based education and practical skills.


Felicity said some of her students love outdoor activities, while others are intimidated by weather and wildlife. She also has students who do well in a conventional classroom, while others have trouble sitting and focusing for long periods of time.

“I want to find a way for all of my students to be successful,” she said.

Outdoor School runs from 12:15 to 3:15 for eight sessions. The first class was on March 24, a bright, sunny day with a light breeze. Students explored the wetland below the school, which is mostly still frozen. Using homemade gauges, students measured wind speed. They examined ecological plots, collected samples of plants and lichens, and captured some of the season’s first insects. No one wanted to go back inside!

In future classes, students will learn biological illustration techniques, navigation by compass and GPS, and wilderness first aid. They will construct their own anemometers and thermometers and record climate data. They will observe migrating birds arriving and look for wildlife sign. And they will visit and compare the vegetation and soils of different areas in the region.

The students held bake sales to raise money for a final camping trip in May.

Contact Info: Julia Pinnix, 907-246-1211, Julia_Pinnix@fws.gov
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