Heads up animal enthusiasts, aspiring biologists, free spirits and wanderers! Saturday Academy has several upcoming classes focused around animal education and the outdoors, including
- Wolverine Tracking Project where students explore the biology, behavior and population struggles of rare wolverines, wolves and other native carnivores.
- Wildlife Biology & Tracking where middle-school students learn basic field techniques to survey for mammals, including remote cameras and track plates.
- Wild Plants & Animals: Foraging & Tracking which high-school students learn to identify edible plants and how to to track wildlife using basic field techniques.
- Wolf Tracks where students learn a variety of tracking techniques and explore why tracking is an important ability even today!
- Animal Secrets where students learn how animals and birds talk to each other.
Teri Lysak teaches Wolverine Tracking Project, Wildlife Biology & Tracking and Wild Plants & Animals: Foraging & Tracking. She says, "I enjoy how tracking is like solving a mystery; you have to piece together clues and look for details, some small and others more obvious, that indicate what type of animal was there and essentially uncover its story."
The class, in partnership with Cascadia Wild’s survey project at Mt. Hood National Forest, focuses on recording population numbers for endangered animals including the wolverine, wolf, montane red fox and marten. Students participate in the survey project through a day trip to a site to Mt. Hood for hands-on experience with different surveying techniques, including setting up cameras, rebaiting food traps, resetting hair wires and learning how to identify tracks and other signs of animal activity. Students learn what to look for and test out their new tracking skills!
Wolf Tracks is taught by Saturday Academy’s Classes & Camps Coordinator, Rachael Percore-Valdez. Students take a day-trip to Wolf Haven International, a wolf sanctuary to learn about wolf biology, their social structures, the struggles surrounding wolf population numbers and ongoing efforts to conserve them. Wolf tracking 101 is covered, with a discussion on recognizing wolf prints versus dog prints and how tracking collars are used to survey wolves.
Rachael became interested in wolves when she first heard about Wolf OR-7 and learned wolves were on a tenuous road to recovery. This interest turned into the creation of the documentary The Wolf OR-7 Expedition: 1200 Miles to Explore Human and Wolf Coexistence. The film follows a group of six adventurers as they follow the route of Oregon Wolf OR-7, a GPS-collared wolf that traveled from Oregon to California to find new territory. He became the first known wolf in California in 90 years.
Rachael says, "Tracking allows me the ability to see what otherwise is missed; once I know what to look for, I discover another world happening all around us."
Encouraging younger generations’ curiosity for the natural world helps develop an appreciation and understanding for the value of all life. It is this appreciation that leads to the successful development of conservation projects that scientists, such as Teri and Rachael, are involved in. Be sure to sign up today and join Saturday Academy in the outdoors!