Photo courtesy Bogus Basin
This winter, through SnowSchool, thousands of kids will romp on snowshoes through their local wild snowscapes, investigate snowshoe hare tracks, climb inside an igloo, conduct a snow/water equivalent experiment, visit remote mountain weather stations, dig snow pits and measure snowpack depth with their classmates.
For many kids, these will be first-time experiences that they remember for life. As a WWA national program, SnowSchool includes 72 sites across the snow belt that engaged over 35,000 K-12 students last year through these hands-on outdoor science activities and snowshoe-explorations of their local winter wildlands.
Over the last month, many people have been wondering if low-snow conditions will derail SnowSchool this year. And yes, it’s true: winter in the Western US was a bit slow to arrive this year. Cold-at-times temperatures but minimal precipitation in December meant a less than snowy start to the season. However, while a day of SnowSchool often feels extra magical with a bit of fresh snow on the ground, the program often operates successfully in drought conditions. Because the SnowSchool experience is focused on exploring winter ecology, local watersheds and learning about the snow-to-water connection, a drought simply provides its own uniquely important “teachable moment” for students.
This week winter shifted gears and the now steadily falling snow across the country is nicely timed with the start of SnowSchool. During early January check-ins, educators from around the country reported on how their local programs were shaping up:
Program Updates from Around the Snowglobe
In Idaho, a program coordinator said: “We did the first couple of days of SnowSchool with students mostly on frozen dirt, but now the snow has arrived and we are excited!”
In Oregon, an aspiring SnowSchool leader shadowed an early January field trip and commented: “It was very inspiring and gave me some great perspective and ideas for what it takes to run a SnowSchool!”
In Northeast Washington, site leaders reported having many “schools signed up to participate in our Mt. Spokane snow science adventures during the month of January, and many more to come during February and March.”
In Southwest Colorado, a SnowSchool site coordinator reported that a new volunteer educator training event was underway on the same day this article was being written!
And at our SnowSchool sites in Alaska (which typically start in late February due to low sunlight in January), site leaders reported ordering snowshoes and other necessary equipment in anticipation of the field trip to come!
Thank you for helping provide more resources to support SnowSchool kids!
As program costs and logistical challenges facing SnowSchool sites have significantly increased in the past few years, we have leaned on program partners and WWA members like you more than ever to help us continue to provide this experience to kids.
Because of your ongoing involvement we’ve been able to provide more winter gear, snowshoes, educator training, and transportation support than ever before. Collectively we are meeting the moment and providing more SnowSchool experiences to kids than ever before.