A Park Ranger Visits Mountain School
As the spring Mountain School season comes to a close, it is time to reflect on highlights from 2018, especially the support we’ve received from the North Cascades National Park. Every week Ranger Eran visited Mountain School to teach students about glaciers, the orographic effect, the Park, and animal habitats. On the second day of Mountain School, after a delicious dinner – but before the evening campfire, students learned about different mammals of the North Cascades Ecosystem by examining the defining characteristics of skulls.
- How to identify whether a mammal is an omnivore, carnivore, or herbivore based on its teeth.
- What a sagittal crest is on the skull, and reasons why that animal might have a strong jaw.
- “If an animal’s eyes are in the front, it likes to hunt. Eyes on the side, it likes to hide.”
Mountain School is a nationally recognized environmental education program offered by the North Cascades Institute in cooperation with North Cascades National Park. In the spring and fall, students journey to the Environmental Learning Center with their class, teacher and chaperones to learn about ecosystems, and the natural and cultural history of the mountains. Graduate students and Institute staff are an integral part of Mountain School, as well as our partnership with the National Park Service.
Park Rangers have a long history of being involved in this program and often offer hands-on, interpretive opportunities for the kids to connect to the Park. This week I interviewed Ranger Eran to learn more about her experience leading activities for Mountain School. The photos below are from Eran’s final program as the spring Mountain School Ranger. Graduate student Gina Roberti did a great job capturing the students’ expressions of wonder through her photography!
What was your favorite part about being a Park Ranger at Mountain School?
“My favorite part of being the Mountain School Ranger was collaborating with a variety of teaching and learning styles. Both the students and the trail instructors were a joy to work with, and it was wonderful to see the change in the students in the short period of time they were with us. ”
Do you have any highlights from the experience?
“One of the highlights from my experience at Mountain School is working with the Concrete and Acme Elementary students. They had some unique perspectives on the land as their communities are close to the park.”
What did you learn during your time in this position?
“Coming from the Southwest I had a lot to learn about Pacific Northwest ecology. There’s still so much for me to learn, and I am very appreciative of the Institute staff and grad students for helping me out! It was also really great to watch the trail instructors work and I was inspired by their energy and enthusiasm. It was great to work with a group of instructors who had lot of practical knowledge from working in field-based, environmental education programs.”
What’s next for you?
“It was an honor to be the Mountain School Ranger this Spring! Next stop is Stehekin at the top of Lake Chelan for the rest of the season, then to Death Valley for the winter.”