“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”, Franklin D. Roosevelt. I think this is a great quote because it reflects the difficulty our society and world has as a whole for building a promising future for the upcoming generations. There are a lot of areas in which we aren’t leaving much for them, but if we can build them, then they’ll be ready for what’s ahead and whatever we do, or fail to leave them. Recently I was given the opportunity to work with a high school youth group who came to the park as ACE interns for a couple weeks. My ranger and I did a variety of different things with them. We did a lot of work with pollinators in an attempt to really show their importance.
We took them to a beautiful area that’s commonly used for sledding during the winter months, but is great during spring and summer seasons for pollinators! This is where we did our bee survey. During this survey the students were taught two different methods of safely catching bees in order for them to be identified. They had a super great time with this and were netting bees left and right. Although we didn’t find any rare bees, it was great to see how quickly they learned the more common species, and could tell it’s sex. We did find a beautiful female monarch though! Don’t worry, we let it go within 15 seconds, just long enough to determine its sex and snap a photo.
Along with bees, we also taught them about butterflies. We went over the most common species around here and took them out to Indigo Lake where we have a transect and did a survey. Just like with the bees they caught on super quickly and were able to identify a lot of them on the spot. On this survey we caught a beautiful Red Spotted Purple, which I hadn’t seen yet this summer!
Water quality was next on the agenda. We took them to the bridge where we sample from and had them take two samples. We then had them read and record the gauge data, and headed back to the office to run the tests. They all got to test for turbidity, total coliforms and E. Coli. Because we have a huge river running through the park water quality is very important to this area, and it has come a long way! The science of water was something they got to learn and can add to a resume! To finish out their time here they were able to jump onto the junior ranger paddling program, which I was fortunate to be able to assist with. This gave them a fun send off, as well as a new perspective of the environment, since views from the water are a lot different than views from land. During these events there was a videographer from Colorado State University here filming for a web series with the NPS about youth in the environment! Hearing his stories about programs in other parks was super cool, and I can’t wait to see our episode! Working with these kids for even the short time I did was great and enjoyable. These younger kids truly are the future, and getting them involved in the environment, taking them outdoors, and showing them some of the science behind it is always an incredible opportunity. Educating the youth for the future is one of the best things we can do!