A STREAM Fox Forest field trip

Twenty students from Elkins Middle School embarked on a spring adventure at Fox Forest Wildlife Management Area near the Division of Natural Resources Elkins Operations Center on Wednesday. These students participate in Kump Education Center’s STREAM Program with mentors Kylie Antoline and Jeanne Johnson from AmeriCorps on the Frontline Education Alliance. AmeriCorps member Isabel Hager also helped out.

Assistant Principal Shanna Parlock has been instrumental in keeping our STREAM program flowing at Elkins Middle. She finds the students who are the best fit for the program and records the endless data necessary for Education Alliance research. She made sure the students learned some natural science, behaved appropriately and had fun.

Jim Fregonara from the DNR is a wildlife expert who really understands the nature of young human beings. He engaged the middle schoolers in a demonstration using a rock in a pan of water to show how elevation lines work on a topographical map. Then he taught them how to use a compass to find their way in the woods. He had pictures of animal tracks to help the students recognize the animals who had been trekking along the muddy path earlier in the morning. There were raccoon tracks like tiny baby handprints and deer hooves with two half-moon marks on each side.

Josh Simons, also from the DNR, said that 80 percent of West Virginia is still forest land, and timber management offers career opportunities for students. He showed them how to determine the age of trees, and students noticed the purplish tone of the redbud trees.

The group divided into two trekking teams and set out on the Pond Loop Trail where they started observing the many little holly trees that birds had planted in the days when there was a holly nursery in the area.

Kump Education Center Board Member and naturalist Jane Birdsong observed the wildlife in vernal pools that others would have called mud puddles on the path. The most ambitious hikers could reach the High Knob and the Overlook Trails before lunch.

Box lunches with sandwiches, fruit, sweet and salty snacks and water were provided by Jim Severino and Davis Medical Center.

After lunch, the students enjoyed art activities, including making Fregonara’s “sun catcher” window ornaments and a mural of nature stencils around the word, “STREAM.”

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