News: Students learn valuable environmental lessons at Dale Hollow Lake
Story by Leon Roberts
CELINA, Tenn. – Students have been learning valuable environmental lessons this week at the 33rd Annual Environmental Education Camp here at Dale Hollow Lake.
More than 45 surrounding-area high-school students arrived at Dale Hollow Dam Campground, Sept. 13 and have been through their paces with their teachers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District park rangers, and other various environmental experts from Boy Scouts of America, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Agency, U.S. Army National Guard, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, and Tennessee Tech University.
Dale Hollow Lake Park Ranger Stacy Bilbrey helped to organize this event that gives young adults the chance to benefit from spending time in an outdoor classroom.
“Our environmental camp is unique to the Nashville District because it’s very hands on,” Bilbrey explained. “All the kids get to see or touch… they’re able to do something with the program such as learn how to fly fish or learn how to canoe.”
The students also participated in an outdoor cooking class, toured Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery, received a presentation about snakes in Tennessee, climbed, shot archery, learned outdoor survival skills, and studied about streams.
“Most people at school don’t get to see this kind of stuff, unless you involve yourself with the Corps of Engineers here,” said Caleb Wilson, a high school science club member and senior from Rickman, Tenn. “There’s a lot of hands-on experience you can get here outside of the classroom. Most of the stuff in the books you can just see it but you can’t really experience it, except for being out here.”
Dale Hollow Lake Park Ranger Dustin Boles, who also helped with planning the learning activities, said the participants at the camp are involved in a lot of outdoor activities so they can learn about the environment and, most importantly, to have fun.
“I enjoy seeing the kids get outside, get outdoors. All of these kids never had a lot of these opportunities they get to have this week,” Boles said. “It’s a great event for the kids. This is the best classroom there is. They learn more by being outside this week than they could ever learn possibly in the classroom. It’s a lot of hands-on experience this week.”
Members of the Friends of Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery provided instruction on how to fly fish during activities on Sept. 14. The students practiced casting, which they quickly found out was not quite as easy as it looked.
Devin Walker, a student from Jackson County, Tennessee, said fly fishing is tougher than regular fishing. “I’ve never done it before. It’s pretty fun though.”
Walker explained he volunteered for the environmental camp because he knew it would be a great time. “The biology teacher said it would be pretty fun and we’d be doing a lot of cool stuff, so I thought I would give it a whirl.”
Event organizers said when students get the chance to camp and participate in so many different outdoor activities, the end result is a very effective learning approach.
“They have the best opportunity in the world here on Corps property,” Boles stressed. “The Corps offers them the greatest outdoor experience, recreation, everything.”