We have arrived!! Smooth travels through Salt Lake City and into Jackson made for an enjoyable morning after an early departure. On our drive to campus from the airport, we were excited to see bison and moose off the roadside. We jumped right into programming with the TSS staff. All are eager to get out into the field tomorrow for some cross country skiing.
Our last full day in the Tetons was filled with analyzing data from the research projects and some free time for skiing and creative journaling. During the evening time, students were dynamite presenting their research. Each group presented their findings, methods, and answered questions from a panel of experts. It was clear that students had gained a deeper understanding of their research topics on sinuosity of herbivores and carnivores, snow pack found in different plant communities, and snow insulation for small mammals.
Research day! Today was all about doing research in the field. Students divided into research groups based on interest and headed out to collect data. We had a group looking at sinuosity of animal tracks, another digging snow pits to determine the best habitat for subnivian mammals, and a 3rd group digging snow pits in different plant communities and observing differences in snow crystals. In the evening, students participated in an Elk mediation where they took on the roles of different local stakeholders to debate the controversial topic of feeding the elk. They really got into their roles and had a productive debate!
Today had a completely different feel then our first two field days. In the morning we went to the National Wildlife Art Museum and explored the incredible collection of wildlife art. Students were given a quote that tied to conservation and they explored the Museum to find a piece that they thought best captured the quote. They each gave a brief presentation on their findings. After the museum, we drove to Miller Butte to check out the big horn sheep that were there! We used spotting scopes to get an up-close look. After that, we drove to the Visitor’s Center in town and got an in-depth lesson on the nearby Elk Refuge and the controversial practice of feeding the Elk. We followed up this lesson by going on a sleigh ride in the Elk Refuge for up-close views of the wild elk. In the evening we started formulating our scientific research questions which are going to carry us through for the rest of the trip!
Another full day! We woke to light snow in the morning and it stayed snowing throughout the day and night. While the mountains were socked in, the beauty and quiet of the snow were magical. Highlights of the day were: animal sightings (weasel, ruffed grouse, bald eagle, moose, bison, mule deer, elk, coyote, fox), the Murie Center, and a night hike. At the Murie Center students learned about how famous conservationist Mardy Murie protected her place, the Tetons; FNH kids then reflected on a place that they hold dear in their thought and what they could do to preserve the people, place, and memories.
During the night hike students shared their Mountains (highlights), Valleys (low points), and Streams (things they’d like to bring back with them to St. Louis). Mountains ranged from skiing and inspired company to overcoming challenges; valleys included the cold, health and skiing; streams were longing to find the same quiet back home, learning how to preserve our passions, and trying to get outside more.
What a day to kick off our first full day in the Tetons! We awoke to an incredible clear view of the Tetons. We’ve decided it was the best breakfast view ever. After breakfast we came back for Bible Lesson followed by art instruction, where students practiced painting landscapes on a monochromatic scale. We then suited up and headed out to the field for a good 5 hours of cross country skiing, tracking and snow science. Our students did an awesome job jumping into cross country skiing – it wasn’t easy! They made incredible progress throughout the day perhaps most importantly, did a fantastic job of staying resilient and supporting their team members when frustration would try to kick in. When we returned from the field, we were treated to an up-close view of a moose right by our rooms! Despite being ready for bed, we spent the evening in the Murie museum learning about the conservation legacy of Olaus and Mardy Murie and practiced creating a species account. What a full day!
The view of the Tetons out our bedroom doors!
Our breakfast view
We arrived! Saturday was a big travel day – meeting at 4:45am in the Girls Dorm, flying through SFO and arriving in Jackson by 4:00p.m. Right away we were greeted with incredible views of the Tetons and a dynamite sunset. In front of the gorgeous mountains and vibrant sunset we saw a herd of bison running across the sage prairie and two mooses a munchin’.
Today we finished up research projects in the morning, had some choice time in the afternoon (cross country skiing or art time) and then students presented their findings in the 2017 Teton Science School symposium. Students did a fantastic job with the research. They took it seriously, asked excellent questions of one another and drew connections between each of the projects. Last but not least, the mountains were out in all their glory! The clouds lifted on this last day and we were able to get spectacular views of the Tetons. Also – we saw wolf tracks!! See below.
Today was research day! Students divided into 3 research groups and gathered data to try to answer their scientific question. Students questioned gait and sinuosity differences in predators and prey in riparian communities, did some snow science to determine which ecological community was best for subnivian life, and tracked fox tracks to compare activity levels close to residential areas vs wild. They present their results Friday night. The night was capped off with our first clear night sky of trip. We had a special treat of an astronomer joining us for the evening with a huge telescope and a wealth of information to share.