On May 10th, the Wrangell Institute of Science & Engineering welcomed 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students for the 20th Annual Earth Discovery Day. The program nurtures a stewardship ethic and excitement for scientific discovery and exploration of nature. The event was held for the Kenny Lake, Slana and Glennallen students of the Copper River School District.
Educational presentations were given by staff from local agencies and organizations, including U.S. Bureau of Land Management, State of Alaska Division of Forestry, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Copper River Native Association, Recycling Our Area Resources (ROAR), Prince William Sound College, and Ahtna, Inc. The students were engaged in place-based lessons designed to help them feel awe and wonder for the natural world, and a sense of connection and belonging in the Copper River Basin.
The goal for this year’s program was for kids to capture the idea that the Copper River Basin is a diverse ecosystem, and the many plants, animals, and humans who live here rely on each other to keep the land healthy. Throughout the day the kids participated in guided hikes, museum tours, interpretive lessons, plant and animal identification, and creative games. Ahtna’s booth introduced the Ahtna way of life through plants, animals, and fish. Various animal pelts (porcupine, lynx, marten, beaver, mink, and wolverine) were on display for the kids to see and touch. The kids also had a chance to guide themselves around the Ahtna Cultural Center. Many items on display were explained with a background story that piqued the kids’ interest, for example, the kids got to see the handmade fish wheel up close and personal.
Earth Discovery Day is a huge team effort, and we are grateful for all the partners who took time from their busy spring schedules to spend the day with our youth.