Latitude High School tenth graders journeyed to Donner Summit September 23-25 to study the biodiversity of the sierra ecosystem. In addition to their schoolwork, students accompanied Headwaters staff on night hikes, ate s’mores around the campfire at the Clair Tappaan Lodge, and enjoyed several hours of free play outside each day. You can see more photos of all the action in the camp photo album here.

The two major areas that students studied were the Van Norden Meadow and the forest surrounding the meadow and the Lodge. One group hypothesized that the forest would contain more insects than the meadow and were completely surprised to discover that the meadow had on average twice as many insects than the forest. 

Another group thought that the forest would house more birds than the meadow and observed that they saw more birds in the meadow, while hearing more birds in the forest. They had a great learning experience finding that sometimes one doesn’t always identify a solid answer through experimentation.

On day 2, Latitude students held a ceremony to honor their classmate Jovani, who passed away earlier this school year. Students wrote notes on paper to Jovani, and planted the notes along with a tree that will grow at the Lodge for years to come. Latitude’s Thania said it best in her thank-you note to the Villager Nursery, who donated Jovani’s memorial tree:

The three day journey ended with a hike up to an overlook where one of the Latitude students compared the view to a Bob Ross painting. We agree that in addition to the happy faces you see in this photo, there are many happy trees in the meadow. 

We would like to thank the Sierra Club and the Clair Tappaan Lodge and the Villager Nursery for their generous support of this program. 

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