Wyoming Experience through the eyes of two adult students
An eight-day experience at the American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) provides one with an education in conservation and sustainable wildlife management. The participants become students, lifelong learners.
The week begins with registration, introduction of staff and an orientation of the anticipated adventures. Each day, the participants are e
ncouraged to pull from within to challenge themselves in hiking stamina, creating, discovering the environment and concentrating on developing personal skills.
The staff at AWLS consists of experts in numerous topics: wildlife ecology, outdoor survival, conservation and firearm safety. These experts share information in a typical classroom environment and atypical outdoor, hands-on classrooms. Participants gather insects, water samples and identify plant and animal life in the wilderness.
Due to the high elevation, hiking poses a physical challenge. The participants are educated on health risks. Each is encouraged to drink water frequently and become mindful of high-altitude sickness symptoms and treatment.
The students are instructed for several days in firearm safety. As the week progresses, pellet pistols, rifles, handguns, shotguns, hatchets and archery equipment are handled, cleaned, dissected and shot! Multiple types of targets are available and grant team competitions.
Field trips are undertaken to a local city, Elk Refuge, mountain ranges and rafting on a river. There is awe, beauty and wonder in the fact how truly small human beings are in the world.
Throughout the week, meals are created and served by a chef who lives onsite. The food is colorful, flavorful and healthy. The students are assigned a rotating schedule and participate in meal clean-up. This provides additional camaraderie.
Upon leaving the AWLS training, one has the option of retaining a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence, energy and an appreciation of the knowledge of the other people. Many students maintain communication through social media.
We are grateful for the July, 2015, AWLS experience and have made changes in our personal lives to enhance our human subsistence.
Nancy Abeare, 1st grade teacher at Turrill Elementary, Lapeer School District
Beth Rupprecht, Outdoor Education Facilitator (K-12), Lapeer School District