Heather Korman, 5th Grade Teacher, Elk Meadow Elementary. Bend, Oregon

The Coyote Trails experience has been nothing but phenomenal for my 4th and 5th grade classrooms. I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to take my students on many Coyote Trails field trips. Although the one day experience was too short for all of our liking, it has left an impression on all of us. I feel like my students are forever changed because of the learning and teachings that surround Coyote Trails.

The first time my students went on a field trip with Coyote Trails, we meet the staff out in a large natural preserve park. We exited the bus a group of excited 9 -11 year old. We were clean, we were energetic, and at times, even a bit rowdy. We left the park that day a different group of kids. They had matured in the woods. Many of them had found a peace within themselves that they did not know they had. Some found nature for the first time. We boarded that bus that afternoon dirty, dusty, calm, confident, and strong. I remember a parent entering my classroom the next day asking me, "What had I done to his kid?" I was not quite sure what he meant, but when he further explained, he said, "My kid doesn't play outside, and after that field trip, he came home last night, took off his shoes and played in the back yard with sticks and twigs until long after dark. Thank you!"

I have been on many Coyote Trails field trips, and none has ever been the same. I always see new growth from my students. Each year someone has a major transformation out in the woods. One year it was the "active" boy who could not sit still. He learned to quiet himself in the woods, find his strength, and stalk deer. He was still enough to be 7 feet from two deer. It was the stillest I had ever seen him, and one of the proudest moments of his life. Another year a girl learned to be sure of herself during a blind rope walk. She was nervous to start, struggled in the darkness and rapped herself up in the rope, but when she found the end, she told me, "I found me!" And most recently, last year, a disabled boy, challenged with CP built a shelter, made a fire, and bonded with his classmates in the dirt. He was just like everyone else that day, and didn't want to leave to go back inside.

Every year I am asked if Coyote Trails is coming back to our classroom, and every year I try to find a way to make it happen. Every student gains so much from the experience, and no child is left untouched by what they learn. This is not just a field trip out in to the woods. It is a field trip into self esteem, confidence, environmental education, outdoor survival, and inner strength. There is no Oregon Standard that can not be applied to the lessons from Coyote Trails. I would encourage every school to find the way to make Coyote Trails part of their curriculum. All students need what Coyote Trails has to offer!

Heather Korman
5th grade teacher
Elk Meadow Elementary
Bend, Oregon