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Elementary students discover East Fork

by Scott Neuffer

As numerous as the nascent willows sprouting along the river bank, a bumper crop of Carson Valley students came face-to-face on Tuesday with the aqueous lifeline that one day will sustain their future.

Approximately 76 fourth-graders from Gardnerville Elementary School converged on the banks of the East Fork of the Carson River in Minden as part of Conserve the Carson River Education Work Day.

Soroptimist International of Carson Valley hosted the event, which is in year six in its present form, though it was first conceived in 1995.



“I think the experience of being by the river and caring for it is a life-changing experience,” said Linda Conlin of the River Wranglers. “As the students grow older, they’ll become more aware of all the issues concerning the river, and they’ll want to protect it. This is our lifeline in the desert.”

“I think anything we can do that encourages children to care about the environment is a positive thing,” added Soroptimist President Cindy White.



More than 20 FFA students from Douglas High, along with other volunteers, oversaw five different learning stations between which students rotated: watershed, stream biology, water quality, the water cycle, and erosion control.

“There are things living in the river,” exclaimed 9-year-old Wyatt Rogers, who was investigating one of many animal pelts displayed at the watershed station. “I like petting the mountain lion skin.”

At the biology station, students were learning about insects, prey and predators.

“Stoneflies, caddisflies and mayflies,” Conlin explained. “If you have a lot of them, then you can be pretty sure that the water is of good quality. Those are what trout eat. If you don’t have them, then there aren’t going to be trout in there.”

Savannah EnEarl, 9, performed some water quality experiments with her peers. She said it was her first time being so close to the river.

“It has lots of animals and plants,” she said. “The water is clean and healthy.”

Paul Pugsley and Dan Kaffer of the Natural Resources Conservation Service helped students seed the river banks with rye and wheat grass. They pointed out where willows planted by students in the past had proliferated along the water’s edge to protect against soil erosion.

“Look at how alive everything is now,” Kaffer said. “There are millions and millions of willows growing, and the whole watershed is coming back, is healthier.”

Today, fourth-graders from Meneley Elementary will explore the outdoor classroom. The program is made possible by the Carson Conservation District, Carson River Coalition, Carson Water Subconservancy, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Natural Resource Conservation Service, River Wranglers and the Western Nevada Resource Conservation District.

Sponsorships were provided by the Carson Valley Lion’s Club, Douglas High FFA, Edgewood Companies, which opened up the Park Ranch for the event, the Gardnerville Port of Subs, Minden’s Holiday Inn Express and Suites, the Minden Subway and the Smallwood Foundation.

Soroptimist International helped organize the event, gathered donations and served all participants breakfast and lunch.