Camping Trip Nurtures Future Conservationists
By Breanne Olsen, Portola High School
For three days last November, 13 other Portola High School students from David Valle’s AP Environment Science class and I went on a camping trip to Shasta Valley Wildlife Area near Yreka, California. During the trip, RMEF regional director Mike Ford and California Department of Fish & Game biologists taught us about elk biology and wildlife conservation efforts in California. We learned about GPS mapping, how to track wildlife and how conservation easements protect wildlife habitat on private land. We also learned how to use radio telemetry equipment to follow and monitor wild animals.
One highlight of the trip was when we were able to sneak up on a herd of about 80 Roosevelt’s elk. One of the students, Courtney Rich, started imitating a cow elk call. Not only did a lone cow elk respond and start walking directly toward us, but the whole herd started responding with various calls.
Every night at camp we enjoyed meals of elk stew and elk chili. Then we would test our wildlife knowledge by playing a wildlife conservation trivia game around the campfire. We earned tokens during the game that we redeemed for fabulous prizes on the last day of the trip. After enjoying the campfire games, we would retire to large canvas wall tents heated by woodstoves.
Mr. Valle has taken students on this camping trip every fall for the last nine years, and usually a couple of students become RMEF members afterwards. Some of them have even become Elk Foundation volunteers, proving that even high school students can play a part in wildlife conservation.