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Indiana 5th graders learn about Alaska, the Iditarod National Historic Trail, and the Bureau of Land Management

The Iditarod National Historic Trail commemorates a 2,300-mile system of winter trails that first connected ancient Native Alaskan villages, opened up Alaska for the last great American gold rush, and now plays a vital role for travel and recreation in modern day Alaska. 

Over 1,500 miles of the historic winter trail system are open today for public use across state and federal lands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), under the National Trails Act, is the designated Trail Administrator, and works to coordinate efforts by federal and state agencies on behalf of the entire Trail. BLM maintains about 150 miles of the Trail, including four public shelter cabins.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Iditarod sled dog race, BLM-Alaska facilitated an interactive, real-time chat called a “tweet-chat” with legendary musher Dan Seavey through its twitter page.   Last year several schools from around the United States participated by sending questions for Seavey as he answered them from the BLM-Alaska twitter account.  
Nathan Rathbun making Iditarod National Historic Trail wooden plaquesIditarod National Historic Trail Plaque
Nathan Rathbun, ADO Carpenter making wooden plaques.Example of Iditarod National Historic Trail wooden plaque students recieved. The trail logo is burned into the wood using a heated die-cut.
Before this year's Iditarod Ceremonial Race Start in Anchorage, Alaska, Visual Information Specialist Vanessa Rathbun got a request from a 5th grade teacher from Highland Hills Middle School in Indiana which participated in last year’s tweet-chat.  While in the 5th grade these students study Alaska and follow the Iditarod Race. "We are getting ready for the 2013 Iditarod.  The students have selected their mushers and are writing bios on each of them.  We have been learning about Alaska, the race, force, time, etc. and are preparing to start reading Woodsong by Gary Paulsen. Do you have any educational items or cool things for kids to help learn about the Iditarod and Alaska?"
The Office of Communications coordinated with Anchorage District Office Carpenter Nathan Rathbun to see if left over wooden plaques from previous years could be modified and reused for this request. With a bit of sawing and one quick run through the router, he turned "2012" plaques into timeless keepsakes for the students. A box was sent with all the wooden plaques, including Iditarod National Historic Trail brochures, NLCS maps, and Iditarod National Historic Trail Visitor guides.

A few weeks after the race ended, BLM ALaska State Director Bud Cribley and Vanessa Rathbun, who coordinated the request, received large packages from the school which held about 100 hand drawn thank you cards from all the students. The students loved the plaques and the brochures! They learned a lot more about the trail and its history, the BLM and Alaska. Many students are now convinced that they want to come to Alaska and some even want to be mushers. 



Bud C. Cribley and Vanessa Rathbun read and chuckle at their thank you cards from students. .

Bud stands next to his wall of thank you cards from Highland Hills Middle School 5th graders.
Cribley and Rathbun read and chuckle at their thank you cards from students. Bud's card from Matthew has a self portrait of Matthew (boy that made the card) saying "Bud Rules!" while wearing an "I love Bud Cribley" T-shirt.Cribley stands next to his wall of thank you cards from Highland Hills Middle School 5th graders.

Last updated: 07-22-2016