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Release Number: BMFO 2004-18
For Release: May 28, 2004


When second grade students from Mary S. Black Elementary School were unable to travel to the Elko Museum for their annual field trip, Mrs. Sandra Olsen, one of the school’s teachers, decided to invite the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Battle Mountain Field Office staff to visit and bring Smokey Bear and friends along. Smokey kicked off the afternoon’s activities and faced 81 students who had lots of hugs and questions such as:

How can Smokey get his belt on?
Can he dance and sing? (No, but Mrs. Olsen helped out by singing the Smokey Bear song.)
How old is he? (Almost 60 was the reply. Firefighters found him as a cub in tree that was located in a burned area and saved him.)
Students did know what Smokey’s messages were such as, “Do not EVER play with fire” and “Make sure campfires are out before leaving the area.”

“Kirby” wore a visitor badge and was featured next on the agenda. Kelly Winnepenninkx adopted him as a wild horse from the BLM nearly four years ago. Kelly answered as many questions as possible as one hand after another went up. “Does he wear horseshoes?” (No. He has range feet.) “Is he always calm?” (No, he can be moody and nervous just like people.) “Why is he named Kirby?” (Because he eats a lot like a vacuum cleaner quickly absorbs dust.) “How many horses do you (Kelly) have?” (Two was the reply and one student said that is better than none!) Kelly further explained that horses are like puppies and form a strong bond with their owners and, over time, a trusting relationship is formed. Students would always laugh when Kirby would whiny as his owner talked. Saying good-bye with a “whisper” clap and thank you, students headed inside for more presentations, class by class.

Christine Pontarolo, BLM Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, expanded on wild horse information. Students learned that horses were used to settle the West by homesteaders, miners, and others, and were left to run wild when no longer needed or useful. Wild Horse Annie successfully campaigned for legislation to protect wild horses. Today, Nevada BLM manages the largest population of the nation’s wild horses with nearly 102 Herd Management Areas (HMA). Arizona has the largest wild burro population. The BLM is responsible for assuring that the horses have enough food, water and living space.

Christine explained, “It is against the law to capture or shoot a wild horse,” but there are many ways to adopt mares (females) and/or studs and stallions (males) from the BLM.” Students looked at a horse skull as they left the room to attend the next presentation.

“Archaeology is like touching history,” said Janice George, BLM archaeologist. She said those in her profession are like detectives looking for clues about artifacts and she brought examples of an old axe head, rusted cans, flakes and arrowheads to show students the types of items found in Nevada. One student asked, Do you find “old stuff” like from 1915 and 1964? Janice stressed the importance of not looting, stealing or disturbing cultural sites because archaeologists need to see the “whole picture” to tell the story of early inhabitants.

Cory Crotteau from the BLM taught students about abandoned mine lands and asked them to memorize the phrase, “Stay Out and Stay Alive.” They talked about the dangers found in abandoned caves and mines like explosives, snakes and bats. She also warned of open pits that have filled with water and might look inviting for taking a swim. Pit lakes can contain toxic chemicals and dangerous rocks. Students also responded quickly when asked the definition of “No Trespassing.” They were given tokens for each correct answer and at the end of Cory’s presentation, looked at a rock containing quartz, amethyst and fools gold all in one specimen.

- BLM -

Last updated: 03-26-2015