SnowSchool 2018-19 Season Wrap-Up

After an amazing winter and spring full of outdoor explorations, the SnowSchool season is a wrap!  And although we are already planning for the coming winter, we put together this season-end report to update everyone on all the SnowSchool development made possible by the hard work of educators nationwide and ongoing community support.

Program Scope and Impact

As we do at the end of every SnowSchool season, we’ve completed our survey of SnowSchool sites to measure how many participants came through the program this winter. We estimate that SnowSchool engaged approximately 35,000 participants across 70 active sites, with 52% of the students qualifying as underserved and 67% of the kids never having been on snowshoes before! Additionally, SnowSchool engaged thousands of adult chaperones, parents, K-12 teachers and volunteer educators this winter. Two SnowSchool students had this to say about their experience:

“Dear SnowSchool- Thank you for helping us learn about snow and a ton of other things.  My favorite part was the belly-slide, that was so much fun! I also really like learning about the igloo and how we go to go inside. Over all you really made it a lot of fun.  Love, Genesee (4th Grade)

“Dear SnowSchool Instructors- Thank you for taking us snowshoeing! It was awesome.  To told my parents all about it and they loved hearing about it.  (I think they were jealous I got to b in the snow and they had to work). I want to take my family up to SnowSchool one day, it will be awesome.  I hope I see yo there.  Thanks you- Derrick.  (5th Grade)

Program Expansion: Every winter Winter Wildlands Alliance brings SnowSchool to new communities across the country by working to establish new SnowSchool sites. By partnering with existing organizations WWA can help provide the science curriculum, snowshoes, educational equipment, on-snow training and  mentoring necessary to quickly launch a winter program to serve new populations of students. As a result of our ongoing efforts, WWA added 6 new SnowSchool sites in Oregon, Vermont, Nevada, Washington (x2) and Idaho!

Workshops and Webinars for SnowSchool Educators: This winter SnowSchool provided training to hundreds of educators across the country.  We provided on-snow workshops in California, Idaho and Washington, and provided live webinars to educators in numerous states across the snowbelt.  Participants learned how to utilize our unique hands-on snow science curriculum, incorporate local weather stations and our Snowpack Prediction Contest into their local programs.  The idea is to share and spread the most impactful elements of the SnowSchool curriculum to sites that can use them!

Reaching Rural Kids:  Bringing SnowSchool to rural school districts that are “surrounded by snow” has become a top priority for Winter Wildlands Alliance in recent years.  Though it may seem counter-intuitive, data suggests that even students in rural areas with ample public lands are spending less and less time outside. Thus the new rural SnowSchool program model empowers teachers and students to charge out the back door of the school to explore winter and the science of snow, not just once, but throughout the season and at every grade level K-12th grade. By creating repeat experiences that grow in sophistication through the grade levels, SnowSchool is serving as an important means to help rural students learn about, appreciate and understand the value of our public lands.

 

Deeper Science Learning: This winter thousands of SnowSchool students nationwide have been tracking mountain snowpack levels via our Snowpack Prediction Contest. Using remote online weather stations accessed from their classrooms, students compared their predictions with actual snowpack levels in their own local watershed. The contest transforms SnowSchool in a 4-month science exploration and concludes with a discussion about drought- versus-abundance years, local water supply and climate science.  By combining this innovative snow science curriculum with fun outdoor exploration, SnowSchool is creating for kids both an emotional connection to winter wildlands and greater understanding of the important ecological role of mountain snow.

The Trail Ahead

With community support behind us, we aspire to continue our efforts to sustain SnowSchool nationally and enhance the overall experience for every student. We envision a thriving national program that will foster rich ecological literacy in our communities and introduce generations of diverse kids to the wonders of wild winter exploration.  Again, thank you! Your support makes SnowSchool possible.

Sincerely,

Kerry McClay, Ed.D.

National SnowSchool Director