New interpretive sign designed by iTREC studentsStudents Mark Iditarod Trail Across New Conservation Lands

(Posted June 16, 2014)

Students at Machetanz Elementary School have been hard at work designing an interpretive sign for the Iditarod National Historic Trail, with students from multiple grades creating the artwork, descriptions and design of the sign. The BLM Iditarod National Historic Trail program provided technical support for the interpretive sign, including historical content suggestions and reviewing drafts of the students work.

Machetanz Elementary, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) elementary school in Wasilla, Alaska, is an enthusiastic participator in the Iditarod Trail to Every Classroom or iTREC program. A partnership program between BLM, the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance, and Chugach National Forest, iTREC is a yearlong professional development series that focuses on using place-based service learning to connect students with the resources along the Iditarod National Historic Trail.

Student reads new Iditarod interpretive signKevin Keeler speaking during Mechetanz Elementary assembly
A student from Machetanz Elementary reads the new Iditarod interpretive signIditarod National Historic Trail Administrator Kevin Keeler speaks during an assembly at Machetanz Elementary in Wasilla, Alaska

The INHT interpretive sign was unveiled on May 8, 2014, during Machetanz Elementary's Stewardship Day. In the morning, students rotated through 30-minute presentations from local scientists on their career and field opportunities, before heading outside for a picnic with guest owls from Alaska WildBird Rehab Center and to admire the new Iditarod interpretive sign.

After the picnic, an all-school assembly was held with remarks from local government and conservation leaders. Students whose work is featured on the interpretive sign were recognized with certificates of appreciation and INHT zipper pulls.

During the assembly, Great Land Trust held a ribbon cutting for close to 1,000 acres of land recently acquired that will be managed by the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge. The land will be used by Machetanz Elementary to expand their outdoor science programs, and provides access to the Historic Iditarod Trail. Students performed a play depicting the various species found in the Refuge, and the assembly closed with a sing along of "This Land Is Your Land."

After enjoying cake provided by the Great Land Trust, students participated in stewardship projects throughout the campus, such as weeding a recently planted boreal forest garden and rain garden, both designed by students, and planting raised-vegetable gardens.

Student artwork for the new Iditarod sign

Student artwork on display at Machetanz Elementary.


-- Story and photos by Caitlan Dowling, GIS intern for Iditarod NHT