MVPF Launches "Little" Mountain School For Local Students

We are always and deeply grateful for all of the help we get from our volunteers and sponsors. It is rewarding to see how well used and loved our trails are, and also to hear directly about the myriad of experiences people have in the park - Especially from those just discovering it.

On that note, this spring our all-volunteer Mount Vernon Parks Foundation launched a new program it developed for bringing Mount Vernon School District fifth grade classrooms to Little Mountain Park. The intent of the field trips were to link the students’ experiences at the North Cascades Institute's Mountain School in North Cascades National Park to environments much closer to home. The Foundation’s own educator members even created a special “Hiking on Little Mountain” guidebook with learning activities focused on subjects like geology, biology, physical education, and language arts.

Working from their "Little Mountain School" guide books, students use an old-growth cedar stump to learn about measuring trees. 

Over the past few weeks, nearly 400 total fifth-graders participated in the five separate hiking field trips, including 85 from Centennial Elementary who made the trek from the East Entrance all the way to the top of the mountain, where they were able to spot their neighborhoods as well as prominent landforms and waterways they had previously studied in class from either the North or South Viewpoint. In addition to geography and hydrology, they also monitored their own physiology- stopping to check their heart rate and pedometers at strategic intervals.

Centennial Elementary students pausing to check their pulse during their 5-mile hike.

 “We want our students to see that they have a comparable recreational resource right in their backyard,” said fifth grade teacher Gretchen Magnuson. “We hope kids will share their enjoyment of Little Mountain Park and bring their parents back with them for another visit.”

And are just a few of the many comments from students who participated in the 5-mile hikes:

“The hike up the mountain was worth it because the view was AMAZING! The hike was really long but I liked it because you can look at all of the different kind of plants, and also you could listen to all the different sounds. It kind of sounded fake, but it wasn’t.”  - Kira
“I liked it when we went up the mountain. We could pause more while hiking to talk more about the plants we see and we could have stayed a little longer when we were at the over-watch to eat lunch.  It was amazing hiking up Little Mountain. The volunteers were very nice. I wish we could of stayed longer.”  - Manuel
“I liked the hike because it was a good day to hike.  What I learned from the hike was don’t touch the stinging nettles.  Hiking helps you with cardio-respiratory endurance.“ - Addison

Special thanks to sponsorship support from Mount Vernon Public Schools Foundation and Skagit Regional Health for helping make these field trips possible. Thanks also to some of our own Little Mountain Trail Builders and Mount Vernon Parks Foundation board members for volunteering to guide these groups up and down Little Mountain.

The Little Mountain School program is only possible through private donations & sponsorships.

Donate TODAY to keep this program going
…and growing!