To help SnowSchool educators prepare for teaching so many diverse students we annually provide on-snow field workshops and regional training opportunities. And this year we’ve broadened these efforts…

Through Winter Wildlands Alliance SnowSchool we strive every year to be a national leader in promoting winter outdoor education for youth.  In recognition of our efforts on this front WWA was invited this past month to present on the SnowSchool program at the annual conference of the North American Association for Environmental Education.  In attendance at the “A Force for the Future” themed conference in Spokane WA were leaders and innovators in the field of environmental education from dozens of countries covering all continents.  The focus of the SnowSchool presentation was WWA’s unique snow science curriculum and our recent success working collaboratively with local organizations to serve youth in diverse communities.  Co-presenting with the Northern Idaho Flagship SnowSchool Site (Selkirik Outdoor Leadership and Education) we detailed engaging hands-on snow science activities that can be done almost anywhere and that connect to K-12 science curriculum.  This type of ongoing outreach and exposure helps sustain program growth nationally.  Look for more updates from us on new SnowSchool sites as the season progresses!  Click here for more information on SnowSchool.

Adventure with the Winter Wildlands Alliance in our hometown for our first annual “Wild Weekend” Friday, Nov 2 – Saturday, Nov 3, 2018.

Join the Treasure Valley backcountry community as we dive deep into the heart and soul of the winter human-powered experience and raise funds supporting the Alliance’s advocacy and education efforts – both local and national.

4th Annual SnowBall: A Ski Bum Gala

Begin your Wild Weekend dancing the night away at the 4th Annual SnowBall: A Ski Bum Gala on Friday, Nov 2 at 7:00 PM at the Linen Building. Benefitting SnowSchool and our local site at Bogus Basin, this event promises delicious food, drinks, silent/live auction items, and live music provided by Jonathan Warren and the Billy Goats. Event page and tickets here.

14th Annual Backcountry Film Festival World Premiere

After you dance the night away with your fellow ski bums, join us the following evening, Saturday, Nov 3 for the 14th Annual Backcountry Film Festival World Premiere! Climate action, environmental preservation, natural resources, snow culture, and of course, POW SHOTS: you’ll find it all in the award-winning line-up. Films, drinks, raffle and auction prizes galore – this is the traditional event of the winter season you cannot miss! Pre-party at the North Face store in downtown Boise from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM featuring local band, Red Light Challenge. Film Festival doors open at 6:00 PM and films start at 7:00 PM at the Egyptian Theatre. Event page and tickets here.

We can’t wait to see you there! Email with questions.

Do you remember the first time you ventured out into the forest to explore the quiet wilds of winter?  For some, such memories conjure up a sense of wonder at the fascinating mysteries locked in snow and ice.  For others this experience is forever linked with a sense of freedom and the inherent joy in a snow-cushioned romp with friends.  Snow connects kids to nature like few things can, and for thousands of students across the country our SnowSchool sites are their first introduction to winter wildlands.

And while it’s not winter yet, we can all feel it getting closer.  So in anticipation of the coming cold weather SnowSchool sites nation-wide are ramping up operations to help introduce thousands of students to winter this year.  Every winter Winter Wildlands Alliance brings our SnowSchool program to new communities of kids across the country by working to establish new SnowSchool sites. By partnering with organizations in diverse areas WWA can provide the educational resources and leaderhsip support necessary to quickly launch a winter program to serve new populations of students. As a result of our ongoing efforts WWA is adding 4 new SnowSchool sites in anticipation of the coming winter – Siskiyou Field Institute in Oregon, Northwest Avalanche Center in northern Washington, Salmon Valley Stewardship in Salmon Idaho and Kenai Wildlife Refuge in Alaska!  Please click the provided links to learn about the amazing work each organization is already doing.  While every site is as unique as the communities they serve, all SnowSchool sites share the common goal of getting kids outside in the winter to experience the wilds of winter.  Look for more updates as the season approaches!

-Kerry McClay, Ed.D.

WWA National SnowSchool Director

Learn more at





This week the National Flagship SnowSchool site at Bogus Basin (located near Boise, Idaho) passes the proverbial snow-torch of leadership from outgoing program director Ilyse Sakamoto (above) to incoming director Eric Willadsen. Ilyse started her outdoor education career as an Americorps-funded SnowSchool leader in 2009 and returned in 2013, after receiving a Masters Degree abroad, to run the SnowSchool at Bogus Basin program. As Ilyse snowshoes off into the sunset, here at SnowSchool we have nothing but deep and heartfelt appreciation for her hard work and incredible leadership.

People rightly associate SnowSchool with fun and the joy of exploring the outdoors with kids, but the behind-the-scenes reality for staff is that it takes an enormous amount of physical, mental and emotional energy to successfully orchestrate thousands of hours of positive student learning experiences in the outdoors. The sheer volume of logistical considerations inherent in serving thousands of kids is a major challenge each and every winter! In this realm Ilyse has truly been masterful. Because of her five years of steadfast leadership over 10,000 students were introduced to the wilds of winter and the fascinating of world of snow science. Her work created thousands of smiles, genuine interest in the natural world and a newfound appreciation for public lands among our youngest generation. Thank you Ilyse!

Ilyse passes the program into the very capable hands of Eric Willadsen (also known as Eric Klemenz on Facebook, apologies for the typo in the August Stash Blast email). Eric comes to Bogus Basin SnowSchool as a former graduate student at the University of Idaho’s McCall Outdoor Science School and, most recently as the Stewardship Coordinator for the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley. Stayed tuned for more about Eric and his role at SnowSchool in the coming months!

As we bid adieu to Ilyse, below are some clips from the SnowSchool archives of her time at Bogus Basin.

Ilyse guiding students through the SnowSchool Snow-Water Equivalency experiment:

Ilyse climbs into a freshly minted igloo:

Ilyse with Boise State University interns and graduate students helping to develop the new (at the time) high school snow science curriculum:

Short excerpt from an interview with Ilyse in 2013:

SnowSchool introduces kids to the joy of exploring our nation’s winter wildlands. A growing national Snowschool 3education program of Winter Wildlands Alliance, SnowSchool annually engages over 33,000 participants across 65 sites (Bogus Basin is one of those sites). Each winter, in 16 states along the US snow-belt, K-12 students and teachers 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! WWA 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. Please explore the menu above to find out how to get involved. Questions? Contact Kerry McClay.