Branching Out: A new environmental program for 5th graders in Bishop, CA

SNAP member McKenzie Dale works with students to remove invasive vegetation in the COSA

This term, Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) member McKenzie Dale has been involved in the development of a new environmental education program for her host site, Bishop Paiute Tribe Environmental Management Office, which takes place on the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Conservation Open Space Area (COSA). This new program is called Branching Out, and it builds on an education program created seven years ago by a former SNAP member in her position. 

Students disperse native grass seeds in the COSA

Branching Out is a monthly environmental education program that serves 5th-grade students at Bishop Elementary School by teaching them about ecosystems through an integrated approach that blends Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science perspectives. As part of the program, the students also participate in hands-on restoration projects on the COSA. The development of this program began in 2021 and was implemented for the first full school year during the 21/22 academic year reaching approximately 100 students. The development of the program is a collaboration between the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Environmental Management Office, the Inyo County Office of Education, and the Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center

Tara Frank, Director of the Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center, teaches students how to make cordage from plants

This new program educates students on the function of the local ecosystem in the Eastern Sierra and the role that indigenous people have always had and continue to have in caring for that ecosystem. It also leads students to cultivate a personal connection with nature and understand what land stewardship can look like. By having this program take place on the COSA, it assists with the Bishop Paiute Tribe Environmental Management Office’s measurable restoration projects through the reciprocity aspect of the program. 

Learn more about McKenzie and the Paiute Tribe Environmental Management Office’s work on their website.

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