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“Hug a Tree and Survive” comes to Fredonia Elementary School

Last week, Fredonia Elementary School (FES) kindergarten through third grade was treated to a Coconino County Search and Rescue program called “Hug a tree and Survive.” Ann Watson, a Search and Rescue volunteer from Flagstaff traveled all the way to FES to instruct students on what and what not to do if they are ever lost. She first educated the students about what Search and Rescue volunteers do and how they work with the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department.


Bristol Palmer (second grade) demonstrates waving brightly colored clothes to help aid being found with Coconino County Search and Rescue volunteer Ann Watson. Photo courtesy of Heather Russell.

Next, the students watched a video on the do’s and don’ts if they are ever lost. Ann explained the importance of not panicking if they ever find themselves lost, and to “hug a tree.” This means to stop where they are and find a landmark, preferably a tree, and “hug it” (stay put), this grounds you in one place. This will help Search and Rescue find you quicker and give you a better chance of survival. Students were then asked to give examples of what they could do to help Search and Rescue find them without leaving “their tree.” Making a big X from rocks, waving bright colored clothing (if they have it) and making an SOS in the dirt were a few of the fantastic answers students gave.


Mrs. Watson also informed students that sometimes when Search and Rescue are looking for lost people, they yell their name. This can sometimes sound like they are mad because they are yelling, but that is not the case. They are not mad, and if you ever hear your name being yelled, make sure to yell back. Also, they may use dogs to help find lost people, so don’t be afraid if you hear a dog barking, yell your name so Search and Rescue can find you.


The program came to a close by students helping Ann demonstrate how to flag down a helicopter, keeping warm using the items they have and being inventive with what they have around them to make noise to aid in being found.



FES wants to thank the Coconino County Search and Rescue for taking the time to educate our students. Their hope is that with this information students will pass it along so everyone can remain safe and know what to do if they ever find themselves in a situation where they are lost. Thank you, Coconino County Search and Rescue!

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