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CPW-led T.E.N. class takes classroom educators into the wilderness to show them ways to instill the love of nature in their students
7/31/2018
Credit:
CPW News Release
SALIDA, Colo. At the Mount Shavano Fish Hatchery, in a field along the Arkansas River and at an abandoned mine high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains last week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff took turns schooling two dozen teachers about environmental science.

The activities were part of a CPW-led T.E.N. class, designed to show classroom educators how to instill the love of nature in their students. T.E.N. stands for Teaching Environmental Science Naturally and its one way CPW helps teachers promote student understanding and appreciation of science and our natural environment.

Of course, how better to teach about science and nature than to get out in it? So for the third time this summer, Tracy Predmore, CPWs Southeast Region education coordinator, created a class curriculum packed with two days of outdoor activities.

In fact, all teachers were warned it may be hot, windy, rainy and buggy. Turns out it was . . . all in the same day. They also were urged to bring sunscreen, a warm jacket, a rain jacket, hiking boots, flashlights and headlamps. And they needed them all.

At Mount Shavano, Bryan Johnson, hatchery manager, showed them how to count fish eggs. Wildlife officers Kim Woodruff and Sean Shepherd took them into the weeds, literally, along the Arkansas to talk about bugs and crawdads. Jena Sanchez, Southeast Region volunteer coordinator, came to teach Leave No Trace principles.

Then came the bat blitz with April Estep, a CPW biologist who specializes in raptors and bats. She and Cathy Brons, CPWs Southwest Region education coordinator, talked about bat biology and adaptation activity. The highlight of the class was an evening trek to the Orient Mine, an abandoned iron ore operation. Today, its the summer roost of the largest, northernmost bachelor colony of migratory Mexican free-tailed bats in North America and site of one of the nations unique wildlife displays.

At dusk each summer night, an estimated 250,000 bats fly from the mine, en masse, to spend the night feasting on insects in the San Luis Valley. The teachers observed the 13-minute initial outflight, counted bats, collected data and observed Esteps Echometer phone app identifying individual bat acoustic calls.

The teachers earn continuing education credits for participating, Predmore said. In return, CPW gets inspired teachers who take their summer adventure back to their classrooms to, hopefully, ignite their students with a passion for environmental sciences and the outdoors.

To learn about professional development opportunities with CPW, go to http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/TeacherResources.aspx.

PHOTOS are Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife / Bill Vogrin

TOP: An undulating river of Mexican free-tailed bats flew, en masse, from the abandoned Orient Mine high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above the San Luis Valley. Viewing the 13-minute outflight, a summer evening ritual at the mine site, was a highlight of the "bat blitz" portion of the T.E.N. class led by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

BOTTOM:
Students in a CPW T.E.N. class peer past a barbed-wire fence into a gaping shaft at the abandoned Orient Mine. Each evening in summer, an estimated 250,000 bats fly out of the mine, en masse, to spend the night hunting insects in the San Luis Valley.

Cathy Brons, CPW's Southwest Region education coordinator, donned a bat costume as April Estep, CPW wildlife biologist and bat expert, explained bat biology to a T.E.N. class.

The CPW T.E.N. class convened next to the Arkansas River in Salida to catch and study insects.

April Estep, CPW wildlife biologist and bat expert, stood next to a gated portal to the abandoned Orient Mine to collect data from the 34-degree wind blowing out of the opening as teachers attending CPW's T.E.N. class looked on.

Sometimes, the T.E.N. class gathered around the back of a pickup truck to study a bucket of crawdads. T.E.N. class participant Kayla Fisher, a Pueblo teacher, displayed a crawdad.

The T.E.N. class gathered around in ponchos at the abandoned Orient Mine to listen to CPW biologists talk about the bats that migrate to the site and roost for the summer, flying out each night to hunt insects.