Fourth-graders dig winter ecology |

Fourth-graders dig winter ecology

GRAND MESA – Snowshoeing may look easy in the movies, but fourth-grader Mikenzie Long learned firsthand Wednesday that it’s not as easy as she thought, when volunteers from the Battlement Mesa Kiwanis chapter took her fourth-grade class on a winter ecology field trip to the Grand Mesa.”I learned that it’s real hard to go snowshoeing and that you don’t stay totally on top of the snow,” Mikenzie said. “It’s fun, but I fall down a lot.”Most of the kids in Jennifer Thompson’s fourth-grade class at Bea Underwood Elementary School in Parachute had never set foot on the Grand Mesa or strapped their feet into snowshoes before the field trip.”This is a great opportunity most of these kids wouldn’t have if it weren’t for this program,” Thompson said.The Kiwanis Club adopted the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s winter ecology program three years ago and breathed life into it. The group received a $1,000 grant from Wal-Mart last year and added some of its own money to buy 30 new pairs of snowshoes for the kids this year.The Battlement Mesa Kiwanians take four classes of fourth-graders up to Grand Mesa for snowshoeing every year. They also take the St John Middle School Builders’ Club, a group of seventh- and eighth-graders, up. This year the Builders’ Club built an igloo.Volunteers from the Kiwanis Club teach the fourth-graders winter wilderness survival skills, showing them what to pack when they go on a trip and how to keep warm if they’re ever lost in the snow.Dustin Fowler, J.D. Craig and Jesse Sharra were on a team together. They used a thermometer to read the temperature on the surface of the snow, 22 degrees, then dug a four-foot hole in the snow and read the temperature at the bottom, 26 degrees.”I was surprised it was warm at the bottom, under the snow,” Mikenzie said. “I never really worried about it before though.”The kids also learned a few things related to their classroom lessons. They studied beavers in school this year and had a chance to look at beaver teeth marks on the aspen trees near a race course where they pretended to be beavers racing against the seasons for food and shelter.”I was really, really, really looking forward to snowshoeing,” Jesse said. He was one of just a few kids who had been before. “Shoveling the hole rocked.”

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