Out of the classroom and into the wilderness
The trail around Horseshoe Lake in Denali National Park and Preserve is filled with the sounds of hammering and sawing.
For Denali Borough students it’s not a bad way to spend a day at school.
About 60 students from Anderson, Healy and Cantwell are in the park for a weeklong intensive training course.
“They’re pretty much seasoned pros at this point,” said trail crew leader Jeff Young. “They’re a pretty impressive group. You can tell it’s not the first time they’ve done this kind of work.”
Working with the trail crew is one of the seven intensive programs students had to choose from. Others include building cabins or monitoring sounds in the park.
The trail crew has been working at Horseshoe Lake all summer to make the trail a complete loop. They’re happy to have the extra hands.
“It’s about a two-mile section of trail and it’s got a lot of unique features and takes advantage of the wildlife and the beautiful setting we have here in the park,” Young said. “To have the kids out here we’re definitely picking up our pace, so they’re a huge help.”
Even though they’re not in a classroom, students are still using a lot of math and science.
“You talk about deflection and how much the wood or whatever you’re using will sink,” said Tri-Valley math teacher Kerry McIver. “So for the bridges that we’re making you want that to be minimized.”
Tri-Valley student Halle Venechuk said it’s a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun.
“Being out here with my friends and doing it with them, that’s probably the best part,” Venechuk said.
She said her family often visits the park so she’s proud to leave her legacy behind.
“It’s really cool to see how this is all made and built. I get to come out here when I’m older and be like, ‘I built that’ and show my kids. It’s just a great feeling,” she said.
Getting out of school to do field work isn’t just fun for the students.
“I don’t have to grade any papers this week and I actually learned a lot too just about how complicated it all is,” McIver said.
Working with the crew is a chance for students to get out and enjoy their own backyard and help make it a little better.