Fifth Graders Exploring Pawnee National Grasslands

By Raetta Holdman

EVANS, Colo. (CBS4) – Fifth grade students at Dos Rios Elementary School in Evans joined students around North America studying the grasslands this year.

The vast stretches of grasslands are an important part of the nation’s ecological system, supporting a number of activities from wildlife to farming to oil exploration.

evans Fifth Graders Exploring Pawnee National Grasslands

(credit: CBS)

The day CBS4’s Dave Aguilera visited the students, they were outside for lessons.

That included a game of “Pronghorn Go” where the students became pronghorns, food, shelter or water. The idea was the pronghorns had to find all the elements they needed to survive.

The students also got a visual lesson in what it takes to turn dirt into soil. But the real hit of the day came when they got their hands on binoculars for a lesson in birding.

evans school visit Fifth Graders Exploring Pawnee National Grasslands

(credit: CBS)

For their teacher, the curriculum about the grasslands has allowed her to engage students in a different way.

“They’ve done a lot of different research projects and were exposed to different departments in the Forest Service for different types of careers like biology or archaeology,” teacher Linda Mieras explained. “It’s really sparked a career interest for them.”

This class will take the lesson plan one step farther when they go to the Pawnee National Grasslands for Grasslands Live.

interview3 Fifth Graders Exploring Pawnee National Grasslands

(credit: CBS)

They’ll join CBS4’s Dave Aguilera and a team of experts to get a first-hand look at the grasslands.

The USDA Forest Service picked the Pawnee Grasslands for the field trip because of its proximity to Colorado cities like Denver, Greeley and Fort Collins as well as the easy access from Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska.

“These grasslands are right in their back yard and they don’t even realize it,” said Lynne Diebel, the Wildlife Program Manager for the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest and Pawnee National Grasslands.

class Fifth Graders Exploring Pawnee National Grasslands

(credit: CBS)

“By exposing them to programs like Grasslands Live, they actually get to go out to the grasslands and see what’s out there and see how they’re important economically and ecologically to their communities.”

You can join the kids and Dave and take a virtual field to the Pawnee National Grasslands during Grasslands Live sponsored by Whiting Petroleum right here on CBSDenver.com on Wednesday, May 17 at 11 a.m.

Raetta Holdman is a veteran newscast producer. She’s been with CBS4 for more than 25 years, coordinating events — large and small — from the control room. Contact her by clicking here.

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