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Fourth grade experiences Yellowstone Park


Courtesy photo

Ralph Witters Elementary fourth grade students got to experience Yellowstone National Park firsthand, with activities such as casting animal tracks, acting out the water cycle and learning the history of the park.

This spring, fourth graders at Ralph Witters Elementary School were once again fortunate to experience two wonderful trips in Yellowstone National Park. Each trip consisted of a four-day, three-night stay in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley at the Buffalo Ranch, the weekends of April 14-17 and April 21-24.

Yellowstone Park Rangers immersed the fourth graders in engaging learning experiences on ecology, geology, history, and preservation of the park. Students participated in many activities such as testing the pH and temperature of hot springs, casting animal tracks, the formation of the caldera, learning the park's history, acting out the water cycle, identifying animal skulls, comparing and contrasting predators and prey, understanding animal adaptations, writing legends, following park rules and safety, and much more.

Students took daily hikes throughout the park and visited many places such as Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, and a hiking trail along the Lamar and Yellowstone Rivers. A variety of wildlife was seen on both trips including bighorn sheep, bison, elk, a black bear, grizzly bears, coyotes, foxes, a white weasel, and wolves.

For many of the students, a lot of "firsts" occurred, whether it was seeing certain animals, doing dishes by hand, or just visiting the park. Teacher Toby Emery stated it was amazing to watch the students' eyes light up and their smiles grow. "As teachers, those are the moments that make it all worthwhile."

Several students commented about the trip. Madyson Landon stated, "It was amazing."

Lance Axtell enjoyed the campfire, and stated it was touching. Isabelle Johnson said, "My favorite part of Yellowstone was the campfire; how we did legends and how everyone shared what their favorite part and being emotional."

Aspen Brooks noted the cabins they slept in were comfortable and "I slept like a rock."

As for the features at Yellowstone, Brailee DeVries said, "We saw fumaroles, geysers, and hot springs. It was awesome!"

Maddi Andreen said, "We had so much fun. We went on a hike all day long. We were wildlife magnets!" Ryan Dumas added, "The hikes were hard but worth it."

Dennis Korte said, "Yellowstone was the best trip in my life," and Teresa Steadman added, "Yellowstone was the greatest experience of my whole fourth grade year."

Emery expressed his appreciation to the people of Thermopolis and the teachers at Ralph Witters Elementary for making the "once-in-a-lifetime" trips possible and allow the student to experience Yellowstone firsthand through their donations and pie purchases during the annual fundraiser.


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