Montana, May 2014
Ovando School is a public school with 15 students grades K - 8, plus several pre-school students. Teachers Leigh Ann Valiton and Brandon Styles lead the school in a two-classroom building in the middle of the small town of Ovando, Montana. Both teachers recently took part in the Forest For Every Classroom program, a year-long professional development course for teachers focused on place-based education.
It would be hard to find an American school with more access to the natural world than what the students of Ovando School enjoy. They are growing up in the Blackfoot River valley, just south of the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex, not far from where Norman Maclean wrote A River Runs Through It. Their teachers and parents organize all-school trips to places like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, as well as shorter excursions like this one, just a few miles outside of town. Wildlife seen and heard during this 24-hour adventure included a grizzly bear, a beaver, elk, sandhill cranes, multiple species of geese and ducks, bald eagles, loons, great horned owls, redtail hawks, meadowlarks, and more. Listen in on the field trip by clicking the orange button above.