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Corvallis High School participated in the Yellowstone Winter Wildlife Program conducting research for a project conducted by park biologists, Feb. 6-10.

Twelve students and two teachers took time off from school to go to Yellowstone National Park.

“This is the fourth year for the Corvallis Yellowstone Winter Wildlife Program, and year after year it is viewed as a huge success by both participating teachers and students,” said Laura Carrasco, teacher.

The program was established through a partnership with Ecology Project International, based in Missoula. The trip is partially funded by support from EPI, student contribution and student fundraising.

“EPI is an organization that develops researched based trips all over the world promoting ecology research,” Carrasco said. “The Yellowstone trip links Corvallis students to a research project being conducted in the park. Students are taught the research protocols and then participate in gathering the data.”

This year Corvallis students worked on ungulate (mammals with hoofs) research and learned how to classify bison and track them using radio collars and telemetry. In the past they have been on cougar research as well as this ungulate research.

Last fall, students signed up to participate in the program and went through an application process.

Carrasco said this year had the highest number of applications and only a fraction of those who applied were selected to attend.

The group stayed in a lodge outside of the park in traveled in each day to do their research. Beyond the research, students learn how to snowshoe, received a lesson on snow science and saw a lot of wildlife including 11 wolves in the Lamar Valley, bison, elk, coyote, moose, pronghorn sheep and bighorn sheep.

Participants included teachers Laura Carrasco and Jeff Kaiser and students - Kara Wissenbach, Chance Jones, Jennifer Stoker, Ceara Chavez, Briar Welling, Cassidy Potter, Rosie Reynoso, Aubry Potier, Vitoria Ferreira, Sammantha Shegrud, Hannah Jankunas and Brandon Domsalla.

Sophomore Domsalla called the trip an amazing experience.

“I learned a lot about history of Yellowstone's wildlife, the ecological issues within the ecosystem and how we can maybe be a difference in solving these issues,” he said. “I interacted with many of the good people in the group, we would get together and take all the data we would collect and share with others about what we discovered and experienced in the field.”

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Senior Shegrud said the trip was “the experience of my life.”

“I had so much fun bonding with my peers and learning about the animals in the park and the park history itself,” she said. “I encourage everyone to consider trying something like this. It could change your life and you will not regret it.”

Senior Reynosa said the trip made her “love ecology even more.”

“The instructors and the students were also fun and curious, we came up with and answered many questions,” she said. “Though I felt I learned a lot, I feel like I only learned a tiny glimpse about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and I can't wait to learn more.”

Junior Stoker praised the encouraging leaders and amazing environment.

Ferreira, an exchange student from Brazil, said the trip was perfect.

“With the EPI's trip to Yellowstone, I was able to learn so much about ecology in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and its wildlife,” she said. “It was definitely my best experience in the United States.”

Sophomore Jankunas said she appreciates the opportunity.

“I was able to do things I never thought I could do,” she said. “I would take the trip again if I could.”

Carrasco said that the trip was an awesome experience despite the cold temperatures and long days.

“I feel strongly that the students who participate are proficient in conducting meaningful scientific research and have a better understanding of the complexities of wildlife management, mission accomplished,” Carrasco said.

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