SnowSchool 2021-22 Season Wrap-Up

After a winter full of fun and snowy outdoor explorations: our latest SnowSchool season is a wrap!

The SnowSchool season is a wrap! And while we are already planning for the coming winter, we put together this season-end report to update everyone on all the SnowSchool developments made possible by your support. Thanks so much, we couldn’t have done this without you!

SnowSchool 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. With surveys from most of our major sites (as well as our online participants), we estimate that SnowSchool engaged 32,000 participants across 70 active SnowSchool sites and in snow covered backyards nationally!

We’ve counted things up a little different these past few years with the launch of our SnowSchool at Home project (designed to help reach kids during the pandemic) so these participation numbers reflect both snowshoe-powered outdoor experiences at traditional SnowSchool sites and SnowSchool at Home snow science participation in backyards and schoolyards! Approximately 50% of the students served qualify as underserved, and of the students who snowshoed this winter over half were doing so for the first time. Also, SnowSchool engaged thousands of adult chaperones, parents, K-12 teachers and volunteer educators this winter.

We’d love to share a few quotes from some of our educators, teacher and students this season:

“Sooo many parents wrote me saying how much fun their child had snowshoeing”

– Elementary School Teacher

Photo provided by Catamount Outdoor Family Center

“SnowSchool was tremendously successful… thanks for the opportunity!”

– Coordinator, New SnowSchool site in AK

Video provided by Takshanuck Watershed Council

“Thank you for letting us come to SnowSchool!”

– SnowSchool Student

Photo Credit: Rob Wade

Other 2021-22 SnowSchool Success Stories

To help launch the new SnowSchool season, WWA hosted the second-ever National SnowSchool Conference (virtual) in November 2021. Over 55 educators from SnowSchool sites nationally attended the conference and the group worked collectively to brainstorm creative ways to engage youth during the pandemic-stricken winter.

Every year we help communities across the country connect kids with their local winter wildlands by establishing new SnowSchool sites. Most recently we welcomed new SnowSchool sites in Utah, Maine, Colorado and Alaska (see video above).  Our new sites in these states successfully engaged hundreds of students in outdoor SnowSchool experiences in their first season and we look forward to supporting their efforts to grow their winter programs in 2023!

Another success story was the continuation of SnowSchool’s unique partnership with NASA-funded snow scientists. This year one of our Idaho SnowSchool sites worked collaboratively with the snow science drone team from Boise State University as they utilized the school’s athletic field to conduct weekly airborne snow surveys. During the winter, 3rd and 5th grade students met up with these scientists to learn more about their work and help collect snowpack measurements by hand. Read the full story here! Additionally, SnowSchool students and teachers across the snowbelt participated in NASA snow science through our collaboration with Community Snow Observation. If you didn’t participate this year, put it on your calendar for next winter!  

Also this winter SnowSchool kids and adults nationwide analyzed and tracked mountain snowpack levels via our Snowpack Prediction Contest. Through this activity students accessed remote online weather stations from their classrooms, made predictions about mountain snowpack levels and then compared their predictions to actual snowpack data in their own local watershed. By combining snow science with fun outdoor exploration, SnowSchool is helping kids build an emotional connection to winter wildlands and a greater understanding of the important role of mountain snow in their communities! 

The Trail Ahead

With your support we aspire to continue to grow the number of SnowSchool sites nationally and enhance the overall experience for every student. We envision a thriving national program (despite the challenges of the pandemic) that will foster rich ecological literacy in our communities and introduce generations of kids to the wonders of wild winter exploration.  Again, thank you! Your involvement and support makes SnowSchool possible.