The past couple

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 1:45am


Katie Johnescu
The past couple of days were unique in that we were able to devote the majority of our activities to the educational aspect of the Henry’s Fork Foundation. On Friday, July 15th, we attended the Island Park Craft Fair at the Buffalo Run Campground where we set up a Henry’s Fork Foundation-sponsored craft tent for children. At the tent, children ranging in age from 4 to 12 were able to make and decorate their very own plant presses. The presses each consisted of two pieces of cardboard and newspaper bungeed inside of two pieces of painted plywood-like material to which the children added their own paintings and glitter. While the paint dried on the presses, Ann Marie took the children on a brief nature walk where they could locate their very own wildflowers to press and bring home. The presses ended up being a huge success! Many more children came than anticipated, but there were enough presses to go around and the children went home excited to go out into nature and find more plants to press.

Kids work away at designing individual hand-held flower presses.

Children sort through sediments to find macroinvertebrates.

On Saturday the 16th, we again set up a station at the craft fair. This time, however, we planned a very different sort of activity for the children: bug hunting. Prior to the fair, Anne Marie collected a bucket full of sediments and water from the Buffalo River and then divided it into smaller samples within petri dishes. The children who came to the tent were supplied with tweezers and microscopes so that they could pick out as many bugs from the samples as possible and put them in a separate water-filled container, from which Anne Marie taught them about what they were seeing. Stoneflies, Caddis cases, leeches, snails, and snail eggs were just some of the exciting critters which the children were able to discover and learn about in the context of their life cycles and their importance to river ecosystems.

Anne Marie explains the life cycle of a stone fly to a group of children.

Yesterday, Monday the 18th, Thomas and Eli spent the day cleaning and monitoring the Thurman Weir and Buffalo River fish traps. Meanwhile, myself and Heidi assisted Anne Marie in designing and going over some of the material for Trout in the Classroom as well as planning and improving an annual fieldtrip that local fifth graders make to the Chester Wetlands. The highlight of the day was definitely making a field trip of our own where we were able to meet with Josh Rydalch, the wildlife biologist working for Idaho Fish and Game at the wetlands. Josh took us on a brief hike of the wetlands which he thought could be added to the field trip program in order to enhance the children’s enjoyment and appreciation of the wetlands. From this little adventure, we were able to get an understanding of the diversity of plants, insects, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians which are found in the Chester Wetlands, thus enabling us to begin forming a vision of how to build upon the material discussed in the previous years to really emphasize the importance of the Chester Wetlands to the children. The next couple of months will consist of building upon these ideas so that the field trip could potentially take place this coming September, rather than when it ususally occurs in May. This change in timing would be ideal in that the weather will potentially be more enjoyable than in May and the children will hopefully also have a chance to view an endangered orchid which blooms in the wetlands around August/September of each year.