A group of Kelly Walsh High School students, parents, and teachers from Casper, Wyoming enjoyed an active Spring Break at Teton Science Schools this month. They arrived eager but uncertain of what the week would hold for them individually and as a group, and they left transformed by their shared experiences. “This was the spring break of a lifetime,” commented one of the students during the week’s final evening discussion. The students explored Grand Teton National Park and engaged in team building and field science activities, including a GPS scavenger hunt, tracking animals in the snow, cross country skiing, and a tour of the National Elk Refuge. The students investigated the ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, debated current issues surrounding elk winter feed grounds, and explored the interconnections between art and ecology at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

“Field experiences brought the science concepts to life. To be able to touch, feel and take in the entire experience was life changing for our students,” remarked one of the chaperones.. This group of students forged close relationships during the week and through their shared experiences developed a greater appreciation for each other. They learned to draw on their strengths so that they could help each other overcome challenges. In fact, many students that were self-described “video game addicts” and “couch potatoes” stated that they were excited to get outside and experience nature with friends when they returned home. They looked forward to exploring natural areas, skiing and hiking, and learning more about where they live.

Some of these students started the week skeptical about whether they would have fun, but finished wanting to come back to Teton Science Schools again next year.. Some seniors even stated that they would like to return as chaperones for future trips to Teton Science Schools. Through this experience the students developed strong bonds with each other and the teachers, they developed a stronger connection to Wyoming, and an appreciation for the beauty of their home that will resonate with them long after their time in the Tetons.