Fifth-grade students from Pagosa Springs Middle School participate in the sixth annual Science on Snow Day last Friday. The event included birding with Weminuche volunteers on the Riverwalk as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count.
By Keith Bruno | Audubon Rockies
Fifth-grade students from Pagosa Springs Middle School (PSMS) participated in the sixth annual Science on Snow Day last Friday.
Students from Mr. Couch’s science class identified 25 bird species along stretches of the San Juan Riverwalk, effectively contributing viable data to the Great Backyard Bird Count, a global inventory of birds conducted every year for four days over Presidents Day weekend and housed on the eBird platform.
Additionally, students cycled through stations where they learned principles of avalanche science with Wolf Creek Ski Patrol captain Eric Deitemeyer, constructed animals of their own creation in the snow that exhibited adaptations of the San Juan Mountains with Joan Rohwer, inventoried the snowpack for density measurements and discussed the correlation to water needs in our community with Keith Bruno.
The biggest facet of this field day for PSMS fifth-graders is getting them outside, learning about different career options and showcasing different ways that they can care for the ecological integrity of their community. Ultimately, people will only conserve what they care about. And if we want our future generations to care about a healthy and thriving San Juan River, that means we have to provide them with familiarity with the representative indicators and many factors that affect that environment. Students now know how to identify a number of bird species along the river that they did not know. They also have more tools in their bucket for safe traveling with their families in the local backcountry. And, lastly, they know that water is the collective lifeblood for so many creatures that call this beautiful locale in the San Juan Mountains home.
A special thanks to the fifth-grade teachers that corralled students on Friday and to the volunteers (not previously mentioned) that made the day a special learning opportunity for the students: Ben Bailey, Aaron Couch, Dottie George, Herb Grover, Charles Martinez, Randy McCormick, Roger Organ, Josh Pike, Lisa Tedder and Jean Zirnhelt.