SnowSchool Field Update

Heavy snowfall made for a great late winter start at many of our SnowSchool sites. Check out photos and updates from across the snow globe this season!

Photo courtesy of Kenai Mountains- Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area SnowSchool

From Kerry McClay, WWA SnowSchool Director (3/6/2024)

SnowSchool annually engages over 35,000 participants across 72 sites and this winter is no different. Our sites across 17 states along the US snow-belt engage K-12 students, teachers, and volunteers to venture out on snowshoes as part of a fun and educational science-based field trip. Over 50% of participants are underserved and a majority are first time snowshoers!

Winter Wildlands Alliance works year-round with organizational partners nationwide to establish new SnowSchool sites each year and help bring this important experience to the communities and students that need it most.

We are excited to share pictures and quotes taken from successful SnowSchool outings across the snowglobe this winter so far!

“These 4th grade students from Liberty Elementary joined The Lands Council for their SnowSchool unit on Mt. Spokane! This winter, The Lands Council led 23 SnowSchool trips and provided more than 400 students with outdoor learning opportunities about winter ecology and the importance of mountain snowpack.”

– Justyce Brant, The Lands Council in Washington

SnowSchool at the Takshanuk Watershed Council in Haines, AK making headlines!

“Third-grader Zephyr Cox returns from a lesson at SnowSchool, an outdoor education program organized by Takshanuk Water shed Council and the Winter Wildlands Alliance. On Feb 11, third graders donned snowshoes and walked acrossthe ice to identify different types of snow and ice crystals.”

-Lex Treinen, Chilkat Valley News

“SnowSchool students at Wild Bear Nature Center (Nederland, CO) test out their speed as CU’s INSTAAR Researcher leads a winter adaptation game.”

– Sarah Travers, Wild Bear Nature Center in Colorado

“Students from Taos Academy Charter School in Taos, New Mexico got out for a winter hike to discover their watershed, learn about the importance of the snowpack, and gained skills in staying safe outside in winter.”

– Alastair Keith, Taos Field Institute in New Mexico

“Ranger Steve and students measuring the snowpack in early January. We have thankfully received much more snow since!” 

 Laken Bose, Discover Your Forest, Mt Bachelor Oregon 

“Each year Salmon Valley Stewardship partners with Salmon Middle School, land management partners, and volunteers to introduce Salmon 7th graders to cross country skiing and snowshoeing at Chief Joseph Pass. Here, a group of students on snowshoes learns about snowpack stability and avalanche safety from Salmon-Challis National Forest staff members.”

– Kate Yeater, Salmon Valley Stewardship, Idaho

“The Eco-Stewardship project brings middle and high school students to Washington’s Cascade range. 35 students visited Mission Ridge and Stevens Pass via snowshoeing and SnowSchool curriculum.”

Seth Wendzel, WSU Chelan/ Douglas County Extension, Washington

Tahoe City was hit by a huge snowstorm last weekend and at SWEP  their SnowSchool Snowpack Prediction Contest graph ticked up 44 inches in just a few hours!  

“We built quinzees with 6th grade students the days before the storm and our field instructor Nick went out the first night of the storm to test out the temps. So we are having fun with all the new snow!”

– Ashley Phillips, Tahoe City California 

“Last night’s Winter Wildlands Alliance #BackcountryFilmFestival with the Marble Charter School may have been one of the more hardy crews watching these films this year. The 60 mph wind gusts and 45 degree temps were endured by the dedicated motley crew.  Thanks to everyone who came out and supported the school and its new SnowSchool programming.”

– Sarah Johnson,  Marble Colorado

“Basin Elementary 4th graders investigated the insulative properties of snow by measuring the temperature of snow at various depths. They then used what they learned to create a shelter for an animal that would help to keep it warm. Kerry McClay with Winter Wildlands Alliance provided an activity that focused on animal adaptations and camouflage to help animals survive in our forest during the winter season.”

– Tammy Ogden, Basin School District, Idaho

“Thank you for having us at SnowSchool every person had fun. I surely had a blast and had fun being in the snow all day long. My toes did get cold however, I did not let that affect my day. By the end of the day, I had forgotten. This is a sign of pure fun. I loved learning about the animal tracks, and I have no doubt that I will never forget any of the things I learned and memories I made. I would like to give a speshl thanks to the emploeys at SnowSchool. That was the best trip ever. Sincerely,”

– (5th grade student on post-SnowSchool survey at Bogus Basin SnowSchool, Idaho)

“This year, KMTA NHA received an Open Outdoors for Kids (OOK) Grant through the National Park Foundation to support our SnowSchool programs in Kenai Fjords National Park! Students snowshoe along the Exit Glacier Road and learn about snow science, winter ecology, and the ever-changing glacial landscape. VStudents playing an all-time favorite SnowSchool game of Camouflage- not an easy feat in the recently glaciated ecosystem!

Pictured at the top of the blog:  4th grade students doing the Snow Homes activity, where they are challenged to create the warmest winter home for their Alaskan “animal” (a jar full of hot water).”

– Sarah Schuh, Kenai-Mountains Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area, Alaska  

“Here’s a picture from SnowSchool at Jack’s Creek Preserve Winter Outdoor Skills Camp!” – Abi King, Jack’s Creek Preserve, Montana

A student at Montana Outdoor Science School takes the quiet of winter while nature journaling. 

“We had a great field trip at Stagecoach State Park in Routt County, Colorado. The 7th grade class was learning about snow science and dug snow pits to learn more about this year’s snowpack. Extra important because Stagecoach Reservoir is important for energy production, environmental support (summer releases during low flow), and agriculture downstream.” – Sheryl Horton, Yampatika, Steamboat Springs CO

SnowSchool in the Eastern Sierra makes the front page thanks to Friends of the Inyo and Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association!