This week, Morgan and I had the opportunity to go out with the San Luis Valley Geologist and Archaeologist on a field trip with a local youth group. The Conejos County Clean Water Coalition hosts bi-monthly field trips to different historical sites around the valley and talks about the importance of water and conservation with kids ages 10-15. This was an incredibly unique opportunity to get to interact with kids of different ages and from a different part of Colorado who had a personal interest in conservation of public lands and water in southern Colorado. The first site we visited was Kiowa Hill, were a historic battle took place between the Kiowa Indians and the Utes. We took a short hike up to the hill where the standoff took place and even got to observe an old eagle trap – where it was believed the Kiowa would lure an eagle to a small carcass and hide beneath a pile of rocks. Once the eagle landed they would grab hold of the talons long enough to remove a couple feathers from the bird and then let it continue on its way. The kids were particularly excited to see not only that this kind of structure still existed and it was on land that they had access to, but was being preserved by the BLM so that they could enjoy stories and scenery such as this.
Our next stop was at the Lobatos Bridge – the first historic crossing of the Rio Grande River just outside of Manassa, Colorado. Here we got an opportunity to talk to the kids about Natural Resource Careers and how preservation of these lands helped to give more jobs to people in the Natural Resource field, and in the valley. It was encouraging to see how many of the kids had interest in outdoor activities and wanted to work in these fields when they got older. The fact that many of the kids didn’t know that they could come out and fish and camp and hike and even observe petroglyphs not far from where they lived validated how important it was for us to do outreach like this. By the end of the day many of the kids were talking about how they wanted to return to the Lobatos bridge to catch crawdads and fish in the river. It was a successful day of encouraging kids to get outdoors while simultaneously learning history of the valley and the people who settled here so long ago; they are still having an effect on the people here today!