That First ELK Experience

andreBlog by Andre Dismuke, ELK Intern

On a recent sunny Thursday afternoon, ELK took KIPP Montbello students to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a place that provides environmental education to people and it’s also an amazing place to go visit. They genuinely care about the animals and natural habitats they manage. The Refuge had many beautiful sights and we saw a variety of animals, from bison to the black-footed ferret.

During the fieldtrip, we got to do many fun things. First, Ranger Tom gave us a fascinating presentation about the Refuge that the kids loved. He gave us really cool facts about many different animals and bugs. Looking around the room, there were nothing but huge grins across the kids’ faces as he was speaking. After that, we got to plant wildflower seeds. Ranger Tom showed us how to plant seeds properly. He showed the kids a funny way to plant the seeds giving a pooping Bison reference that the kids loved.  As I was planting with my partner, I asked him if he was having fun, and he immediately replied, “Yes!” with a huge smile on his face. After responding he also added, “I would come back anytime!” continuing to plant seeds. He didn’t even want to leave the Refuge. After an hour of planting and enjoying ourselves, we had to leave. While leaving, we drove around the Refuge one last time. While driving we saw huge bison! Looking back at the kids, I saw the amazement and curiosity in their faces.

As a new intern at ELK, this was my first fieldtrip and I had a really incredible experience. I didn’t expect to get the experience I had. I expected it to kind of be boring like school, but I was completely wrong. It was a breathtaking experience that I will always remember. It was so amazing, I even told my friends at school about it. My favorite part of the trip was planting the seeds. Ranger Tom told us if we came back later on during the year, that we’ll see results and be able to tell people that we were the ones that planted them. I really like that ELK is showing kids to care for the environment and to appreciate it. I am honored and truly thankful for being a part of this experience. It made me feel really good inside seeing kids have an opportunity I wish I had when I was younger.