A CFI guide shows students a nature journal, prompting the youths to observe their surroundings closely. “I’m interested in nature journaling and how small things can be greatly appreciated,” wrote one student reflecting on the experience. [Photo courtesy of the Canyonlands Field Institute.]

Over 230 local students were able to get outside and learn natural science lessons in their home landscape this fall, thanks to Canyonlands Field Institute and its sponsors.

For 35 years, Canyonlands Field Institute (CFI) has been providing outdoor education opportunities across the Colorado Plateau. This fall, CFI collaborated with the Grand County School District to get middle school students outdoors on several trips.

In September, Grand County Middle School seventh-graders spent a day on the Colorado River floating from Onion Creek to Rocky Rapid. For nineteen students, it was their first time ever rafting. Students learned about naturalism and journaling from guides, as well as participating in activities to better learn about hydrology and how erosional forces created the canyon they were floating down.

Sixth-graders from Helen M. Knight Elementary headed out to CFI’s Professor Valley Field Camp for an overnight adventure. Students went on a long hike in the sun to take a look back in time while at the petroglyph panel. Unlike a museum, students observed artifacts in the very location they were created, and 42% of students on the trip gave feedback that they are excited to learn more about the natural and human history they observed on this trip.

Grand County Middle School eighth-graders participated in a day of service working with Rim to Rim Restoration, a Moab nonprofit. The students worked to revegetate the banks of Pack Creek, where just a year ago a fire destroyed several homes.

Several students recalled the fire; some were evacuated with their families and others pitched in digging ditches to prevent the spread.

Now, a year later, students returned to the spot to give back to their community. Not only that, but students learned about the importance of native species in preventing these destructive blazes. Thanks to the students’ hard work, there are now 200 new native plants in and around Pack Creek behind the Cinema Court apartments.

“We are excited to continue working with local schools and partners like Rim to Rim Restoration to keep offering these educational experiences,” said Kate Niederehe, CFI Associate Director.

Canyonlands Field Institute thanks Rim to Rim Restoration Executive Director Kara Dohrenwend for organizing the eighth-grade service project and also the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and the Moab Area Watershed Partnership for providing the grant that funded the effort.

These programs were able to be offered for free to local families due to the generosity of the Grand Conservation District, Grand County Education Foundation, Maki Foundation, BLM – Hands-on Land Youth Partnership, Jones Family Foundation, Hemingway Foundation, 100+ Women Who Care Moab, and generous individual donations to CFI throughout the year.

“We are excited to continue working with local schools and partners like Rim to Rim Restoration to keep offering these educational experiences,” CFI Associate Director Kate Niederehe said.