The goal of this program is to increase student awareness of place through teaching balance, sustainability, restoration principles, and the ecology of working landscapes in Indian Valley.
To read about the 2016 Summer Garden and Restoration Internship Program, please click here.
In 2007, the Sierra Institute and Greenville Jr./Sr. High School (GHS) launched a Natural Resources Program that integrates field-based projects with classroom work. The Program is based on rigorous environmental education and a natural resource field program designed for 7th through 12th grade students. The Program’s goals are to strengthen students’ connection to their rural environment and to broaden their educational experience by offering opportunities for open-ended inquiries and practical problem-solving.
Fieldwork has focused on sites in the Lights Creek Watershed burned by the 2007 Moonlight Fire and a Caltrans wetland mitigation site in Crescent Mills.
The 65,000-acre Moonlight Fire was a monumental event in the lives of Indian Valley residents. During school field trips to the burned area, students repeatedly ask, “How can we help fix this?”The burned landscape resulting from the Moonlight Fire provides an excellent opportunity for students to explore forest management issues in their own backyard.
Students participate in yearly field trips that engage students in hands-on monitoring and restoration work. Field activities include permanent monitoring plots, as well as riparian and upland restoration work. The program transforms a historic event in many of the students’ lives into a great learning experience where they are able to apply what they know and think critically about the recovery process.
Learn more about Greenville High School’s work in the Moonlight Fire footprint here.
Greenhouse and Garden Program
Another highlight of the program, in addition to these field experiences, has been the creation and growth of the school greenhouse and garden.
With the help of teacher Dan Brown, students grow many vegetables for local sale and conduct science fair experiments utilizing the greenhouse, along with growing native riparian plants and conifers for restoration work in burned areas of Plumas National Forest.
Mt. Hough District staff work with Greenville Jr./Sr. High School staff and the Sierra Institute, and other key supporters include, Plumas Unified School District, Plumas County Board of Supervisors, Feather River Land Trust, Collins Pine Lumber Company, and the Maidu Cultural and Development Group.
GHS teachers have been key to the success of the program through their dedication to their students both before, and after school hours. The hard work of these teachers, and their willingness to go beyond the classroom to make learning fun and meaningful continues to drive the program forward.
Student author- Miranda Fitch
Printed in the Indian Valley Record – November 2011
The Natural Resources students of Greenville High arrived at the Moonlight fire site on November 10 to measure and understand the recovery of an area once devastated by the horrific Moonlight fire four years ago.
One group of students went to two plot sites where trees scorched from the fire had previously been marked with spray paint and tags. The group compared the amount of bark on the trees, the number remaining with tops and the number left standing with notes taken in previous years in order to determine the changes since the fire. In addition, the students attempted to predict which trees have the highest rate of survival.
A second group of students walked around searching for one thing and one thing only. Birds. This group counted the number of species of birds as a direct indicator of how well the area is recovering since the disastrous fire.
Another group recorded the different types of vegetation growing in the area. They looked at specific areas and determined what was growing there, what was alive, and whether it was there last time.
A fourth group took photographs or “photo points” which give a visual representation of changes in a landscape over time. Using compasses and GPS units, they worked to maintain continuity with previous years.
Students with camcorders were integrated into each of the monitoring groups to document the work being done by Greenville High.
Currently students are processing this year’s data, and will be comparing this year’s findings to previous years. The data and the results will be shared with the U.S. Forest Service.
Each year the Forest Service sends out experts to help the students with this monitoring process. This year the students were fortunate to have both Mike Donald, head of the Mount Hough Ranger District, and Earl Ford the Plumas National Forest Supervisor come out and observe their work. Both of these officials were very complimentary of the hard work and quality data that the students were collecting, and reminded the students that the skills they are learning now can lead to jobs in the future.
Video: The Story of The Moonlight Fire
A movie produced by Greenville High School/ the Natural Resource Program about our field work at the Moonlight Fire.
More Video Highlights:
May 2015: GHS students visited the established monitoring plots in the Moonlight Fire footprint to collect data on snag longevity and forest recovery in burned areas.
April 2014: Students planted seedlings originating from different seed zones into the same location in the Moonlight Fire footprint to investigate the effects of source elevation on seedling success.
April 2014: Students visit some of the previously established monitoring plots to continue data collection.
May 2013, An ecologist from the USFS led students on an exploratory hike to a rare stand of Baker cypress that is regenerating after the Moonlight Fire
April 2013, students joined a USFS hydrologist to plant willows around a culvert replacement project conducted to allow fish passage.
April 2013, 18 students planted almost 700 trees at a restoration site near Wheeler Sheep Camp on the Plumas National Forest.
October 2012, GHS Students place sixth in 2012 Forestry Challenge. Read more here. (pdf)
May 2012, students released an 8-minute film about the Moonlight Fire and their role in monitoring and restoring the burned areas.
April 2012, accompanied by a number of Forest Service personnel, a group of students planted Ponderosa Pines, Jeffrey Pines, rust-resistant Sugar Pines, Douglas Firs, and Incense Cedars in the Moonlight/Antelope Lake fire areas.
November 2011, Over 25 students were joined by teachers, Sierra Institute staff, and several US Forest Service employees to continue monitoring the recovery of the landscape following the Moonlight Fire.
October 2011, Three students participated in the Forestry Challenge. Students had the opportunity to test their skills in the field and during a presentation to judges. This year’s task was to develop a land management plan for a site. Congratulations students for participating!
February 2011, Greenville HS students monitoring and restoration activities on the Moonlight burn showcased in the High Country News.
November 2010, the Greenville High School Natural Resource Academy students planted over 200 riparian plants for a USFS Creek Restoration project on Wolf Creek, near Greenville. Students planted willows and alders provided by the Forest Service and also planted willows grown in the school greenhouse. District Supervisor, Mike Donald, solicited help for this project and he and all the USFS staff on-site were impressed with the students’ efforts.
In May 2010, students planted conifer seedlings in the burned area through the U.S. Forest Service. Participation in this re-vegetation effort occurs by observing and shadowing (as appropriate) professional planting crews, and trying their hands at manually planting. This activity was combined with lessons in forestry, forest management, forest ecology, soil productivity, and the costs/economics of tree planting. You can read more by connecting here to the USFS site.
In April and early May 2010, students participated in the CA Envirothon, at Joshua Tree.
In March 2010, Academy students started a re-vegetation project at the Heart K Ranch by collecting 600 willow cuttings to grow in soil at the GHS greenhouse. In late May, students will return to plant the willows at degraded sites at the ranch, under the oversight of the . These activities will be coupled with lessons on stream ecology, channel dynamics, and water quality.