McCall Outdoor Science School Educates Idaho Kids About Climate Change

Wednesday, January 27 2010

Written by Sue McMurray

Wal-Mart grant will help with student-focused program

MCCALL, Idaho – Snow-day school closures in early October, extra-hot summers and an overabundance of creepy insects to scare little sister may seem like a great way to live to some Idaho kids. But while these factors may be fun now, they are signs of impending climate change that could alter their futures.

A new climate change program delivered by the University of Idaho McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) aims to help educate Idaho seventh through twelfth graders about the impacts of climate change and how it affects their everyday lives. MOSS environmental programs are a collaborative effort among the University of Idaho, Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute and Ponderosa State Park.

Entitled “Inquiry for a Changing Planet,” the program consists of five- to 10-day expeditionary science learning experiences that will occur in students’ classrooms, in natural areas in close vicinity to their schools and in the mountains and forests of central Idaho near the MOSS campus.

“Both teachers and students will have the opportunity to meet and interact with Idaho researchers looking at a vast array of questions related to the ecological effects of climate change,” said Steven Hollenhorst, MOSS director. “In turn, they will get hands-on opportunities to participate in data collection and analysis.”

The program initially gained substantial seed money from the University of Idaho’s National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program, and now a $25,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation also will support the program.

“In 2005, Walmart laid out three main goals to guide our sustainability efforts: to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy; to send zero waste to the landfill; and to sell products that sustain our natural resources and the environment,” said Karianne Fallow, senior manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Wal-Mart. “Wal-Mart’s support for MOSS is a direct reflection of the good work they are doing to educate students and teachers on critically important climate issues.”

Each outreach program module is divided into four sessions. Topics include watersheds, exploring local rivers, mapping and GIS, invasive species, fire ecology and landforms.

“Two three-day teacher institutes will be conducted at MOSS during the 2009-10 school year and following summer,” Hollenhorst said. “Up to 60 participating teachers may qualify for continuing education credit.”

"Inquiry for a Changing Planet" directors expect the following outcomes:
• Increased student and teacher awareness of climate change and associated research;
• Demonstration of student problem solving, science inquiry and collaboration skills;
• A heightened ability of teachers to incorporate inquiry-based environmental learning into the classroom
• 120 students participating in science expeditionary programs.

“Our curriculum appeals to Idaho schools because it fulfills critical state science standards, and it provides field experience with scientists engaged in climate change research,” said Hollenhorst. “It will result in significant understanding of climate change and its effect in the Pacific Northwest.”
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit

About Philanthropy at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and the Wal-Mart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. Through its philanthropic programs and partnerships, the Wal-Mart Foundation funds initiatives focused on creating opportunities in education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From February 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009, Wal-Mart – and its domestic and international Foundations – gave more than $423 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally. To learn more, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit