Mrs. Rudolph’s Fredonia Elementary fifth grade class earned a special treat by working together to earn a grant to fund an exciting field trip to Zion National Park (ZNP). The grant, provided by The National Park Trust, was aimed at promoting education, stewardship and healthy living by funding a Kids To Parks event in schools across the nation.

The students worked together to decide which national park to visit. They researched what to see at each of our available national parks. There were some spectacular choices, including the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Lee’s Ferry and Pipe Spring. Other places like Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Park were top choices, but too far away. They voted for ZNP for the variety of natural and cultural resources, and the magnificence of the rocks.

These students spent the day traveling with their new stuffed mascot Buddy Bison, volunteering, being healthy and learning with the rangers at the park. They enjoyed an educational field trip to help clean up the park. After an exciting ride that included going through the tunnels at the east end of the park, they started a short walk towards the Virgin River. They noticed how different the environment was from Fredonia. Water was running and deer were browsing in a meadow. A big part of the goal of the grant was to promote healthy living through active outdoor activities. Hiking through nature was fun and healthy. Healthy living is a lifelong adventure.

The hike was followed by a talk about John Wesley Powell.They learned how Powell surveyed the area they live in. Learning about geology and history were two more goals of the grant. ZNP has some of the most incredible rock formations in the world. They had even driven through the rock! It’s easy to learn about the geology and the history when you visit a place like Zion.

Next came a delicious and healthy lunch packed especially for this field trip by Fredonia Elementary dietitians. Afterwards, they visited the Museum of Human History to look at unique artifacts and learn about the people of the past. The class liked the beaded moccasins and other remnants of previous cultures.

Heading out to volunteer their time and energy by being good stewards at a beautiful place like Zion National Park, the students cleaned up an area and found a variety of trash. They all wore gloves and went through a safety training before starting the work they were so proud of. It was clean and natural looking, so much nicer than when they arrived. Ranger Michelle Haas discussed the value and meaning of the effort they accomplished.

In fulfilling the goals of the grant, they had learned about geology, history, wildlife and the changing ecosystem. As volunteers working hard to help clean up a famous and meaningful resource, the students were learning to be stewards and thinking about how they could help preserve special places like Zion National Park. Healthy living is a lifelong adventure. Both kids and adults are healthier and happier when they can actively enjoy the outdoors hiking, playing, running and all the other things you can do in a vast and varied area with streams, mountains and meadows. By working together this fifth grade class was able to choose a unique experience and learn, while having an adventure and accomplishing a positive goal.