College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Anthropology Club is connecting people, culture, ecology, and stewardship and preservation of public lands and waterways to younger generations at a local Boise school. As part of an ongoing collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Riverstone International School fifth-grade class, the Anthropology Club hosted the Adventure Race project, Friday, Oct. 7.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for fifth grade students to not only learn about important concepts, but also raise the profile of CWI in the community,” said Associate Professor of Anthropology and Anthropology Club Advisor, Nikki Gorrell. “For me, it is about putting the “community” into community college and being involved around the valley.”
CWI Anthropology Club was able to engage with Riverstone students and spread awareness of key subjects, like learning about the importance of pack it in, pack it out principles, environmental stewardship, sustainability, and more. The collaboration allows CWI students to get experience doing field work, develop their leadership skills, and engaging with young people in our community.
“You are never too young to learn about preservation,” said CWI’s Anthropology Club President, Maddox Lightning. “Preservation is a foundation for all cultures. Creating a fun way to engage in preservation invites children to approach it not from a scary place but from an excited place where they can hopefully grow up to carry it and be proud of it".
This was the third year the Anthropology Club put on the Race where 29 students from Trevor Lindsay and Carissa Schlachter’s fifth grade classes participated in the fun, informational event.
There were five different stations students were able to engage with including Leave No Trace, Sustainability and Plastic Pollution, Salmon Life Cycle and Healthy River Ecosystems, Environmental Policy Challenges, and lifeway traditions of Great Basin Indigenous Peoples. Students were able to have fun while learning about these topics through scavenger hunts, soccer activities, hula hooping, and more.
Gorrell and Lindsay timed the Adventure Race as the culminating event to bookend Riverstone’s fifth grade unit on ecosystems and urbanization, where they studied the tensions between naturalist conservation and urban development. Riverstone is located in Southeast Boise, where they are surrounded by rapidly developing urban growth, but still have access to natural spaces, like Barber Pool Conservation Area.
“We value having these natural connections and opportunities to collaborate with other organizations,” said Lindsay. “CWI’s Anthropology Club, BLM, and our school are like minded where we have a stewardship and appreciation for the environment, culture, and history. We do a lot, especially with our fifth-grade kids, to learn about the world right around us. To learn from more of an anthropological view of the world around us enhances what we are already doing.”
"This is experiential learning, and in academia, we call that a high impact practice. The best way to learn is by doing, and that is exactly what these students are doing,” Gorrell said.
While this is the Anthropology Club’s third time organizing the Race, BLM’s Backcountry Wilderness/River Ranger, Evan Worthington, originally created a similar event years prior called BLM Field Day.
Part of Worthington’s job is educational outreach to promote preservation of wilderness, wild scenic rivers, and stewardship of our public lands. When he was introduced to Gorrell and the Anthropology Club, he felt it would be a great partnership to help educate younger generations.
“We need to introduce kids to those ideas,” Worthington said. “I think it is something that must be ongoing with every generation. Because if not, if you do not get through to them when it is early about protecting the places they love, those places will not be there for them to love. That is my goal with all this.”
Because of how engaging these activities are, it is common for alums from the Anthropology Club to take part in the Race after they graduate CWI. This year’s events saw two alums return.
“Many of my club members are lifelong friends,” Gorrell said. “This club creates a supportive space for like-minded students, who clearly love anthropology, to come together.”
Gorrell and the Anthropology Club were also able to provide the fifth graders CWI swag bags that had items like, CWI t-shirts, branded hacky sacks, educational materials, and more.
For those with questions or in need of more information about CWI’s Anthropology Club, contact Nikki Gorrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.