In The Spotlight

Students Experience a “Day in the Desert”

On April 4, teachers and fifty-eight 7th graders from Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School traded their brick and mortar classrooms for the vibrant landscape of southern Utah. The Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (NCA) was one of the chosen venues for the “Day in the Desert” event, sponsored by the Washington County School District, which allows middle school students to participate in “hands on” activities.

In the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, located within the NCA, specialists from the BLM Saint George Field Office, Washington County Administrators Office, and Southern Utah National Conservation Lands Friends (SUNCLF) group instructed students on ecological and cultural resources with curriculum-based workshops. They educated students about the life histories and adaptive mechanisms of native Mojave Desert species, like the desert tortoise and Gila monster; sampled and tested water quality in Quail Creek, and tried their hand at flint-knapping. They also identified native plants that were used as foods, medicines, or fiber sources by Native Americans and Anglo-European settlers, and visited the mid-19th century Orson B. Adams farmstead.

At the end of the day, “Day in the Desert” was a success with the children excitedly chatting about their experience on Public Lands as they marched back to the school bus.  

Ben Cramer, BLM St George Field Office Park Ranger, educates students about local mid-19th century lifestyles.


Ashley Gilreath, from Southwest Utah Land Conservation Lands Friends (SUNCLF) shows students how to use a net to gather soil, and hopefully bugs, for insect-testing

Geralyn McEwen, BLM St George Field Office Archaeology Technician, offers a student a flint-knapping demonstration

Cornell Christensen, with the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, shows students some molted snake skin.