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.