SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.— Last week, third and fourth graders from South Lake Tahoe and Zephyr Cove Elementary schools made the trek to Tallac Historic Site for the annual “Children’s Forest” field trip.

This educational event is presented by the South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (STEEC), a network of more than 26 agencies and organizations that provide environmental education programs for all grade levels in the South Lake Tahoe school system. Educators bring their passion for the region, teaching lessons on a variety of topics aligned with their expertise.

This year’s program included lessons on Washoe history and plant identification with Master Gardener Dave Long, who led students on a Washoe plant identification walk. Students learned the uses for incense cedar, snow plant, wild strawberry, and other common Tahoe Basin plants. Harper, a Bijou Elementary third grader, was excited about the lesson.

“I learned that currants, roses, and sage were all used by the Washoe Tribe” Harper said. Her mom Rochelle, a chaperone along for the day, noted how cool it is that she grew up visiting Tallac Historic Site, so to see her daughter on a field trip here is especially rewarding.

Tony Stefani, USFS Fire Prevention, lead a program called “Living with Fire- Then and Now”. Students brushed up on their knowledge of the fire triangle, discussed animal and plant adaptations, and played fun games. “

Our prescribed fire program is modeled after historic forest health. Among other things, we are teaching students about how the Washoe would put fire on the landscape” Stefani said.

Fourth graders engaged in lessons on Tahoe’s historical and modern transportation systems, tree biology, living with fire, and aquatic invasive species. Kaytlen Jackson and Katie Sullivan from California State Parks took students on a walk through time, discussing the history of transportation in the basin and its effects on the environment today.

“The collaboration is really cool,” said Sullivan. “All of these different organizations are working together to educate and help foster our future stewards. It’s fantastic!”

Overall, the Children’s Forest field trip was an engaging educational experience for our local students. Through field trips like these, our young people are able to develop a deeper understanding and stronger connection to this wonderful place we call home.