Dozens of fifth graders from Parkview Elementary School in Dillon gathered at the Birch Creek Outdoor Education Center last Thursday for the 2015 5th Grade Outdoor School. The students broke up into small groups and rotated through several different education stations which taught about watersheds, forests, noxious weeds, and wildlife. Members of the Beaverhead Watershed Committee and the Beaverhead Conservation District co-taught a station that included lessons on water turbidity, soil health, and riparian health.
The riparian health lesson was delivered with the help of the ever-popular Rolling Rivers Trailer. The trailer belongs to the Montana Association of Conservation Districts and makes it’s way around the state each year to help teach youth about watersheds. At Birch Creek, the trailer was used to demonstrate the how erosion can damage stream banks and property if riparian vegetation is not present to guard and anchor the soil. Students also learned about the effects of unabated livestock access to riparian areas and worked together to come up with stock water solutions that protected stream health. Despite the soggy weather, the students were enthusiastic about the opportunity to play, think critically, and learn about watersheds.