Monday, April 7, 2014

Roundtable discussion sparks discussion about outdoor learning on the Wind River Indian Reservation

"We must teach our children
To smell the Earth
To taste the rain
To touch the wind
To see things grow
To hear the sun rise and night fall
To care”
~ John Cleal

In a spacious meeting room at the Frank B. Wise Business Plaza in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, a group of educators, community members and tribal leaders met with Wyoming-EPSCoR to discuss science education on the Wind River Indian Reservation (WRIR). This is the second community-driven “Roundtable” hosted by Wyoming-EPSCoR, and one of many meetings and conversations this EPSCoR office has had with partners over the last year. The goal? To determine science education needs and expand learning opportunities on the WRIR about water-science topics such as hydrology and watershed health.

As individuals sat in-the-round conversing about science education needs, a key theme emerged: children need to learn outside. Many in the room stressed the need for an “outdoor classroom” that students and educators on the WRIR could use for water-science and natural resource education. 
Meeting on March 27, 2014.

This need was fully understood by Wyoming-EPSCoR staff. Education, Outreach, and Diversity Coordinator, Liz Nysson, stated, “By learning outside, students will be able to gain hands on experience and begin to view science as something that is all around us.” 

Outdoor education is not a new notion on the WRIR. 4-H educator, Jennifer Wellman, regularly takes groups of students outside for educational lessons. However, limited teaching resources and restrictions on access to outdoor spaces have limited some educators from being able to create and implement outdoor lessons. 

Other concepts discussed at the meeting coincided with outdoor education including creating science resource boxes for teachers, hosting community events about water, and working with partners to create internships in water-related fields for teenagers and young adults.
Notes from Meeting.

These conversations will help Wyoming-EPSCoR develop an education plan that is informed by needs and desires of the WRIR community. 

“It is important to EPSCoR that programs are community driven and supported by educators and community leaders,” Nysson said on Thursday March 27, immediately following the meeting. “Wyoming EPSCoR will continue to build partnerships and programs to expand educational opportunities for students on WRIR.” 

For more information about Wyoming-EPSCoR and WRIR community partnership, please email Liz Nysson at  

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