Connecting Klamath Mountain Communities
The Klamath Mountains, a world biodiversity hotspot, will provide the laboratory to engage local elementary, middle, and high school students in hands-on learning about their home region. The Project will provide K-12 environmental education curriculum and field experiences to rural schools across the Klamath Mountains.
The project team will build relationships between non-profit organizations, community partners, local tribes, K-12 schools, and colleges to engage students in hands-on learning—while building and refining skills in collaboration, teamwork, and communication. Bringing together teachers and other community members the Bigfoot Trail Youth Stewardship Project will enable young people to contribute to their communities as they learn.
Currently six nonprofit organizations are part of the Project team:
- Watershed Research & Training Center in Hayfork
- Trinity Together in Weaverville
- Scott River Watershed Council in Etna
- Salmon River Restoration Council in Sawyer’s Bar
- Mid Klamath Watershed Council in Orleans
- Smith River Alliance in Hiouchi.
Michael Kauffmann, president of the Bigfoot Trail Alliance and a long-time science teacher, will serve as the Project Director and work with local leaders to create a durable framework for cooperation among these and other interested regional partners. A grant from S.H. Cowell Foundation is helping the Project get started.
A first step will be asking community members to take a survey that will assess existing resources and regional needs. With that data collected, the project will launch with a regional collaborative meeting to plan next steps and assess overall goals.
“I am excited to be a part of this project and see what educational goals arise from our survey” says Kauffmann. “In addition to creating new standards-based curriculum for schools, we will provide youth with direct, place-based experiences – not just hearing and reading about these science topics, but being there, seeing for themselves. The classroom learning and field-based experiences will compliment each other and enhance student’s environmental literacy and relationship to other communities across the Klamath Mountains. We will create these opportunities based on data that emerges from the survey.”
“Our communities in the Klamath Mountain region are similar but separated by great distances across rugged mountains. Despite the distances we are connected by our unique forests, wild rivers, and amazing trails,” says Joshua Smith, the Watershed Stewardship Program Director at the Hayfork Watershed Research and Training Center. “We partner with some of our neighbors on regional fire, fisheries and water projects and this project will be one more way to bring our organizations and communities closer together to achieve our ecological and community health goals.”
One of the linkages across this vast landscape is a long-distance hiking trail. The Bigfoot Trail is a 360-mile pathway created in 2009 using existing trails and roads, linked together to celebrate the regional biodiversity in the Klamath Mountains. The route has the potential to connect rural communities along the trail, to each other and to the wild lands around them, while also introducing young people to vocational possibilities like trail building skills or scientific research.
“I’m excited to build on curriculum we already have in place and develop new curriculum for our communities,” says Carol Earnest, Community & Stewardship Program Director at Mid Klamath Watershed Council. “There is potential to develop citizen science projects that students across the Klamath Mountains can share with each other and learn more about other communities.”
“This project provides an opportunity to connect youth across the region through place-based curriculum and outdoor experiences” says Patty McCleary, the Co-Executive Director of the Smith River Alliance. “Smith River Alliance is proud to support this effort which will provide local youth an opportunity to learn more about this place we call home.”
Questions? contact Michael Kauffmann at email@example.com to get involved or ask questions.