Back to School with Schools on Trails

Fall is back to school and a fabulous time to take students outdoors and immerse them in the changing of the seasons. Schools on Trails has been very busy starting off the school year with the field trip of a lifetime to Portage Glacier and the Begich Boggs Visitor Center thanks to a Every Kid in a Park grant through the US Forest Service. Fourth graders from four Title 1 schools, Mountain View Elementary, William Tyson Elementary, Creekside Elementary, and Fairview, took the one hour boat ride to view Portage Glacier, touched glacier ice, and learned about glacier formation. For many of the students and their parent chaperones, it was their first time seeing a glacier. Check out this ADN article and Channel 2 News story about it!

In the spring, we awarded Challenge Grants to three Anchorage schools to help them improve their nearby parks and take their lessons outside. With the school year beginning, projects are really coming to life. Campbell STEM Elementary students have been working hard in Wolverine Park with the help of volunteer landscape architects Elise Huggins (Earthscape) and Bri Keifer (Huddle). They’ve planted edible shrubs, mapped trail improvements, located sites for future bird houses, and updated their local community council on their plan for improvements. Sand Lake Elementary students spent an afternoon with volunteer landscape architect Kevin Doniere (NPS), surveyor Mark Aimonetti (Edge Survey) and Russian Jack Rotarians, visualizing their outdoor classroom design on the ground and developing a technical plan. Students at Pacific Northern Academy are working on designing and constructing a multi-use loop trail in the northwest corner of Ruth Arcand Park.

Fall is also the time of year when teachers who attended our Summer Academy course can finally test out the new ideas and activities they learned. This 2-day course at the end of May is a collaboration between Schools on Trails and other Get Outdoors Anchorage partners to help ASD teachers expande the boundaries of the classroom to include the outdoors. This summer 28 teachers learned how to utilize the parks and trails within walking distance of school for classes and activities through hands-on lessons. Now in its fourth year, this is a very popular course.

Schools on Trails is a program of the Anchorage Park Foundation working to connect Anchorage schools with their nearby parks and trails. Click here to learn more!