February 5, 2016
Walden School’s Class of 2016 recently spent six days at Teton Science School in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Teton Science School was founded in 1967 as a non-profit educational organization with the goal of teaching students from all over the United States about natural and cultural history, while exploring the Greater Yellowstone Geo-ecosystem.
Walden students stayed in modern, dormitory-style buildings on the Jackson Campus. Each day, they traveled throughout the Jackson area to hike, ski, and snowshoe in Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton National Forest.
The students had hands-on experiences in field ecology, including animal tracking, wildlife observation, ecological field research, alpine ecology, field journaling and sketching, and leave-no-trace backcountry ethics.
We posed these questions to different students upon their return from the 2016 trip.
When you get to be an adult, what will you remember most vividly about your trip to Teton Science Schools?
“When I am 18 or 21 years old, I think I will remember setting the fire alarm off! We had a humidifier in our dorm room to help with the dry, mountain air. The moisture from the humidifier was supposed to help our coughs so we could sleep. Instead, the moisture set off the fire alarm!”
If you could change one thing about Teton Science School, what would you change?
“If I could change one thing about TSS, it would be better food.”
What is something that made your class trip to Teton Science School special?
“We really got to know people there. Everyone at TSS was really friendly.”
Of all the things you learned on your trip to the Tetons, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?
“I believe the skill learned on the TSS trip that will be most useful is the in-depth mindfulness. At Walden, we touch on this topic, but we don’t exhibit it in depth. In the Tetons, we learned how to be in the moment and appreciate our surroundings. This is a necessary skill for the enjoyment of the trip. Mindfulness is a way that we can actually step back and see/appreciate what we are doing.”
At Walden School, the teachers are also your friends. Were your TSS instructors also good friends? Why do you think so?
“At TSS I only got to spend time with the instructors for six days. So I really didn’t get to know them like I know the Walden teachers, because I have known them for years.”
How would the world be different if animals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem could talk?
“I think the world would change for the better if GYE animals could talk because then the animals that have something un-explainable about them could explain the anomaly to us. Also, I learned a fact that some animals can live up to 270 years. So they might have seen history.”
If you could have some of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem animal adaptions, which ones would you want and what would you do?
“I think I want eagle eyes to see really far; wolf smell to track; and wings to fly. I think this would make the ultimate predator, other than humans. I would be able to survive the summer but in winter I think I would want an extra coat of feathers or fur to keep warm.”
What was the hardest thing about being a kid at Teton Science School?
“It was really hard watching a lot of the teachers having second servings of dessert and the kids only got one.”
Where is your favorite place in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem?
“Taggart Lake was my favorite place. It was really beautiful and we hiked it on snowshoes. It was a great place to get to know our TSS instructors on our second day.”
If you could travel back in time three years (to Third Grade) and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?
“Bring a lot more layers for the carriage ride at the end of the trip on the Elk Preserve. It was freezing!”
What five words do you think most describe Walden’s 6th Grade trip to the Tetons?
“If I could use five words to describe the trip TSS they would be: fun; cold; beautiful; calming; and awesome. All of us really enjoyed the trip and it was nice to be away from all the stress of applying to middle schools.”
When was a time during your Teton trip that you felt lucky?
“I felt lucky when I found a unicycle. And I felt lucky to have the GPS job while out in the woods.”
If you could make one environmental rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what rule would you make? Why?
“The rule that I would make would be to that you can not leave a trail behind. For example, if you are on a hike and have a granola bar, instead of burying that wrapper, put it in your backpack and throw it away later. Other examples include not destroying habitats.”