Release Number: BMFO-2004-15
For Release: May 14, 2004
BLM HOSTS 14TH ANNUAL MILL CREEK EDUCATION DAY
The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Battle Mountain Field Office hosted the 14th annual Mill Creek Environmental Education Day. Sixth grade students from Austin and Battle Mountain attended with supervision from 12 volunteer parents and 5 teachers. Educators Val Anderson from Austin and Pat Buckley, Nola Coats, Richard Dahl and Bob Shaw from Battle Mountain kept the nearly 100 students moving from one station to another.
Organizing the event this year were mother and daughter, Dorothy and Britany Harvey, both Information Technology employees at the BLM. Usually Dorothy organizes the event but this year Britany needed a project for her Environmental Science project and Mill Creek provided a perfect subject. Dorothy and Britany are both Computer Science students at Great Basin College and will graduate together on May 21 with their Associate Degrees. Both plan to continue at Great Basin to complete their Bachelor of Applied Science degrees.
Britany maintained the usual 7-station format staffed by BLM and Forest Service (FS) employees. Teachers assigned students to groups designated as blue, dark green, yellow, red, lime green, pink and orange and they moved accordingly from stations on Fire Camp Safety, Archaeology, Native Seed Planting, Scavenger Hunting, Maps and Compasses, Birds of Prey and Water Purification. Britany said, “It is just great to be able to watch students having fun while they learn about their local environment.” She should know, having participated as a 6th grade student herself.
Lunch was prepared and served by teachers (who also brought condiments and paper products) and volunteer moms. The meal consisted of hot dogs (donated by the Owl Club) and buns (donated by Midway Market), a variety of deserts, potato chips and each student brought his/her own beverage.
What did they learn?
Fire Camp Safety taught that fire needs fuel, oxygen and heat to burn. BLM Fire Crew members: Donnie, Casey, Dave, Ryan and John, showed students how to check the heat of a fire with the back of their hand and that it is important to clear an area of fuels, including plant roots, before making a fire. “Bucket Man” as Battle Mountain student Jaime was nicknamed, put the sample fire out with a bucket of water while Shakara and Zack covered it with dirt. No smoke should be coming from a fire when attendants leave the area.
Birds of Prey was taught by Kevin, a BLM Wilderness Recreation Specialist and Environmental Biologist. Students learned that birds can be identified by their silhouette with a Golden Eagle, Falcon and sharp-shinned hawk as examples. As if on cue, a red-tailed hawk being harassed by two ravens, flew overhead. They also were told that warm air rises and allows bird to “float” in the sky. Wing spans, weight and predator preferences were also discussed.
Water purification was taught by Lis Lani from the Forest Service and her helper Linda Bernardi. Students learned that Girardia is the biggest hazard to eliminate before drinking water from natural sources. Three ways to accomplish this: boil water for at least 15 minutes (depending on elevation), use Iodine tablets or use a water filtering system. Students tasted the water from a filtering system and commented that, “It tastes like regular water. It’s good. “ But Jacob refused to believe them and took no chances in the taste test. Leave No Trace principles were also taught
Janice George and Katherine (“Kat”) Russell, BLM archaeologists, told the students that archaeologists are like detectives searching for scientific clues on what people ate, where they slept, what they did and climate conditions of years ago. They don’t study dinosaurs – paleontologists do that. Kat helped students grind seeds into flour using two rocks just like the Shoshone and many other Indian people did years ago. Janice took some of the students on a walk to see the remnants of the 1930’s Mill Creek Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). There were 54 camps in Nevada and each consisted of 200 people who served 6 months to two years learning new skills, earning a little money and building roads, dams and windmills; drilling wells; installing telephone lines and fighting fire. All CCC camps were men only.
Rob Perrin, BLM Outdoor Recreation Specialist, let students clear ground and plant native seeds. They also learned to identify non-native species such as Whitetop and that the BLM sprays invasive vegetation with pesticide treatment. By the end of the day, students had cleared and planted a sizeable area across Mill Creek.
Dave Drennon and Mike Neff taught the Maps and Compasses lesson. Map use and tools to create and work with maps was also discussed. For example, students learned that a township consists of 36 square miles or sections and that a section consists of 1 square mile. Mike Neff explained the use of a GPS unit and how it could be used with maps to pinpoint your location.
Darcy Crotteau led the Scavenger Hunt with 12 goals for students to reach. Tasks included describing 3 examples of pollution, finding evidence of human-caused tree damage, locating an insect and drawing it, sketching a wildlife track and finding evidence of bird life.
It was a busy day in this outdoor classroom and students left with new skills to enhancetheir environmental science curriculum. Comments from students:
Kelsey and Michael liked the Fire Safety lessons.
Rachael, Korey and Shakara liked the archaeology walk.
Melissa liked the water purification demonstration.
Cassie liked the hotdogs best.
Jennifer like planting seeds.
As the day progressed, new favorites emerged such as grinding seeds, knowing how to identify birds of prey, going on the scavenger hunt and learning to use a compass. Dorothy Harvey said, “Students remember this 6th grade experience for years and talk about all they learned.”
Mill Creek Campground is maintained by the Battle Mountain BLM Field Office and no fees are charged for camping or day use. This year, newly painted trash cans were completed, tree limbs and other debris were hauled away and log parking structures were repaired. The BLM appreciates the care most visitors practice while recreating at the campground. However, some vandalism still occurs and BLM would appreciate reports on the damage. Please phone (775) 635-4000 to relate defacement or destruction to federal property.
- BLM -