Students at Clackamas River Elementary School recently journeyed through the trees and along the river to celebrate the end of the school year.
On Tuesday, May 30, and Wednesday, May 31, students went to the Timberlake Job Corps campus on the Mt. Hood National Forest for a day of fishing, picnicking and meeting Smokey Bear.
Sue Gummerson, a staff member at the job corps, said this was one of the first times the organization has hosted such a large event. The students, ranging from kindergarteners through fifth-graders, visited the campus over the course of two days.
"This is our first time hosting an entire school for a field trip," Gummerson said. "It opens up a whole new avenue of excitement to host a massive group and have them appreciate our property."
The lake at the job corps campus was stocked with approximately 15,000 crappie and trout from a local hatchery, and fishing was a big hit among the elementary school students.
"It's great to have the kids outdoors," said Amy Hudson, principal at Clackamas River Elementary. "For some of the kids, it's the first time they've caught a fish."
Gummerson added that the lake is a good spot for beginning anglers.
"It can be frustrating to fish in the wild, because you can sit there for hours and not catch anything," she said. "But the pond has been stocked with commercial fish, and they go for the bait."
Hudson enjoyed watching the students helping each another while they sat along the lake, noting that fishing created opportunities for teamwork.
"It's nice to see kids play to their different strengths," she said. "Some are good at casting, (and) others are better at untangling the lines."
Gummerson noted that the event also provided valuable opportunities for job corps students. The program's student government, recreation leaders, safety leaders and forestry students all assisted with the event, and the culinary students prepared the picnic. Forty of the 190 students at job corps helped organize the event.
Gummerson said the leadership experience is valuable.
"It's an opportunity for (the job corps students) to be an adult example," she added. "They have a job, and it's important for them to be there to do it."
Students at Timberlake Job Corps range in age from 16 to 24. Administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, the center offers technical and academic career training in a variety of fields, including carpentry, culinary arts, forestry conservation and firefighting, painting and welding. Additionally, a GED curriculum is available for those who have not already received their high school diploma.
While the Clackamas River Elementary students fished, job corps students assisted them with stringing their fishing poles, pulling fish off the lines and cleaning the catches.
Anthony Evans, a job corps student serving on the organization's safety team, enjoyed helping students while they fished.
"The best part is the fact that (the students) can have fun," he said. "They get to experience the fun of fishing, and they get to take the fish home to eat."
After they caught their fish, students met Smokey Bear, the mascot for the U.S. Forest Service. They enjoyed asking him questions about himself and the forest.
Gummerson hopes the time the young students spent in nature and meeting Smokey inspires students to be stewards of the environment.
"Hopefully the children have a learning experience," she said. "We talked about caring for our land and being good stewards of fishing and wildlife."