By Hilary Turner

This winter, The Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation has been lucky enough to get to play a small role in helping students at Jackson Hole Middle School (JHMS) start an afterschool club called Feathers, Fins, and Fur. The club is the first of its kind at JHMS. It has a wildlife focus and has set a goal of learn more about local wildlife and find ways to lend a helping hand where possible.

Students from the Fins, Feather and Fur club build chickadee boxes to install this spring.

At our first meeting we made wildlife journals where students now keep records of the wildlife they see each week. In mid-December, students snowshoed at the Gros Ventre Campground for the Christmas Bird Count to aid in the long-term citizen science effort. Since then, the club has continued to meet regularly each Thursday after school.

The students also participated in several bilingual lessons about the wildlife of Jackson Hole. In some cases students prepare the lessons themselves and present information to fellow students. In other cases, mentors assist with the lesson planning. Last week, the club met in the school’s shop and created chickadee nest boxes which the students will hang in their neighborhoods to enhance nesting habitat for secondary cavity nesters.

Creating nature journals to record wildlife observations was one of the club’s first activities.

Students had an accompanying lesson about cavity-nesting species in Jackson, which was presented in both English and Spanish. They then drew their favorite cavity-nesting species in their wildlife journals.

Our next goal is to engage in a wildlife monitoring project on High School Butte, as part of a larger habitat restoration collaborative between several groups in Jackson.

It’s hard to beat a science project where you get to study wintering-habits of animals like mule deer right out the front door of your school!

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