USU's Natural Resources Field Days: Taking the Classroom to the Field

It was another successful year for Utah State University’s Natural Resources Field Days. The weather was great, the students were fantastic and learning in the field was as good as it gets for everyone involved. The program provides fourth-graders from all over Cache Valley with a hands-on educational experience that covers plants, soils, water and wildlife. 

From September 10-20, approximately 2,050 Cache County fourth-grade students and teachers packed a sack lunch and ventured up Logan Canyon to participate in the 45th annual Natural Resources Field Days (NRFDs). Nestled in the forest alongside the Logan River, the Guineva-Malibu campground bustled with curious students.  

Natural Resources Field Days operates as a multi-partnership program that includes scientists, professionals and students from Utah State University Extension, Water Quality Extension, Forest Extension, Utah Association of Conservation Districts, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), U.S. Forest Service Logan Ranger District, Stokes Nature Center, American Land & Leisure, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Quinney College of Natural Resources, Cache County School District, Logan City School District and area charter schools. Each agency or organization helps organize, teach, attend or volunteer at the two-week event. The collaborative efforts of so many partnerships make NRFDs a success.
 
“My students had a great day,” said River Heights Elementary teacher Debbie Anderson. “It is always very well presented and right on CORE!” 

In this outdoor classroom, students spend a day building soil structures, examining macroinvertebrates found in Logan River, identifying the various plants of the forest and tracking wildlife through activities designed to directly align with Utah State Core Curriculum Standards. The place-based teaching method of NRFDs engages students in “a hands-on experience that solidifies what we teach in the classroom,” states Rachel Southwick of Bear River Charter School, “their favorite this year was migrating from Canada to Argentina as birds.”  
 

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