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About the Yellowstone Institute

May 5, 2015

June 14-22, 2015

The Yellowstone Institute is part of the Museum’s Educators of Excellence Program, which strives to provide exceptional educators with staff development opportunities that transform the way they view and teach natural sciences. The Yellowstone Institute provides a unique opportunity for educators to learn about wildlife, geology, and conservation in America’s first national park. Follow our journey through Yellowstone’s landscape by reading our blog posts and visiting our photo gallery.

Leaving Yellowstone

June 27, 2015

Leaving Yellowstone came with the realization that friendships had been developed that will last a lifetime; dreams came true, challenges were met, and goals for a new year were created. Not to mention the collaboration that took place between elite teachers! This was a trip of a lifetime. Thank you NC Museum of Natural Sciences (and Melissa and Megan) for the experience.

by Tanya Robinson-Freeman

woman posing with a bison skull in a meadow

Tanya with a bison skull in Little America, part of the northern range of Yellowstone

June 21, 2015 – An adventuring song…

June 21, 2015

The Twelve Adventures of Yellowstone (sung to the Twelve Days of Christmas)
On our adventure to Yellowstone, the Park showed to us:

12 inspired teachers

11 geysers erupting

10 hot springs bubbling

9 days of hiking

8 trout swimming

7 pronghorns prancing

6 owls hooting

5 howling wolves

4 moose chewing

3 bear cubs wrestling

2 grizzly sightings

And a herd of bison in the road

~The entire 2015 group

talking with two Rangers

Ranger Bob and Ranger Rebecca help explain the complex, subterranean plumbing system of Grand Geyser

 
Beehive Geyser eruption

Beehive Geyser eruption

 

June 20, 2015 – Dear Ranger Carolina

June 21, 2015

Dear Ranger Carolina,I want to come to Yellowstone for vacation but my kids want to go to the beach. What should I do?

Sincerely,

Wondering in Weddington

journaling on the beach

Journaling on the shores of Yellowstone Lake

Dear Wondering,

Yellowstone may be known for its geysers, hot springs, and wildlife, but Yellowstone also has 141 miles of shoreline along Yellowstone Lake. If you stay at the Lake Hotel you can walk the Pelican Creek Trail to access a 1/2 mile of sandy beach. There may not be waves and boogie boards but you just might find a Bison carcass to explore!

Happy travels!

Carolina on my mind
Dear Ranger Carolina,

I am planning on visiting West Thumb and its wonderful hydrothermal features, including the Blue Bell Pool. Should I bring my swim suit and soak in this natural hot tub

Sincerely,

Lovely Lady in LincolnLincoln

Bluebell Pool- NO SWIMMING ALLOWED!

Bluebell Pool- NO SWIMMING ALLOWED!

Dear Lovely,

Yellowstone has over 10,000 thermal features which are beautiful and tempting. But that tropical blue that you see in the water occurs because the water is so close to boiling, no microorganisms can grow. The park ranger would probably cite you, if the scalding water did not kill you.

Happy travels!

Carolina on my mind
Dear Ranger Carolina,

Birdwatching is something I have always wanted to do, but I am concerned. What do I do if I encounter the Killdeer. Certainly with such a name, this must be a dangerous and bloodthirsty avian

Sincerely,

Petrified in Pamlico
Dear Petrified,

While Killdeer are territorial, they pose no danger to you or any other bird watchers. The name “killdeer” comes from their call. But be alert to the call of the Grouse, because he sounds a lot like a moose!

Happy travels!

Carolina on my mind
Dear Ranger Carolina,

While admiring the wildlife in Yellowstone, I have noticed how the Elk and Bison seem so docile. I want to take a selfie with one of these creatures. They are both so beautiful, which one should I choose?

Sincerely,

Picture Perfect on Penny Road
Dear Picture Perfect,

That “picture perfect” photo that you are after just might be your autopsy photo! A good rule of thumb is to remain 25 yards away from grazing anImals (bison, elk, deer) and 100 yards away from predatory animals (wolves and bears). If an animal changes its behavior due to your presence, they could perceive you as a threat and charge!

Happy travels!

Carolina on my mind

June 19, 2015 – Farewell to Lamar

June 19, 2015

This morning our team hit the road at 5 am to bid a final farewell to the northern range of Yellowstone National Park and our beloved animals of Lamar Valley.

We were greeted by hundreds of bison who were right next to the road, and we got to see newborn calves up close. Some of them still had their umbilical cords attached, and one had just been born and was still wet! They bid us goodbye by honoring us with a bison parade and surrounding us on all sides as we traveled together down the road as part of their herd.

 

Newborn bison calf in Lamar Valley

Newborn bison calf in Lamar Valley

 
While we were sad to be leaving we were all excited to discover what wonders and adventures were waiting for us!

We had hardly begun when we spotted a large grizzly bear! For almost an hour we watched in awe as Scarface, the oldest grizzly in the Park (27 years) traveled across a valley and up through a meadow. We were amazed at how massive he was and how quickly he moved. What a magnificent animal!

Now we’ve entered into a new phase of our adventure – exploring the southern portion of Yellowstone and experiencing the amazing thermal features for which the Park was originally set aside. But we will not forget the way that Lamar Valley and the wildlife of Yellowstone has touched and changed our lives. We hope to return soon.

Picture Post

June 19, 2015

We finally have some better cell phone service, so we wanted to catch you up on some of the pictures that we haven’t been able to post yet!

 

Bull elk at Mammoth

Bull elk at Mammoth

On the top of the world- the Beartooth Absaroka wilderness lies at our feet

On the top of the world- the Beartooth Absaroka wilderness lies at our feet

Our paintings of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Our paintings of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

elk antler as a unicorn horn

“He’s a mean one, Mr. Grinch…”

Bear cub

Bear cub

 

Bison skull in Little America

Bison skull in Little America

 

Hiking with Ranger Trudy

Hiking with Ranger Trudy

 

Marmot in the Beartooth Mountains

Marmot in the Beartooth Mountains

 

Bear with two cubs that crossed the road in front of us

Bear with two cubs that crossed the road in front of us

skeletal remains of a bison

Yellowstone CSI with Quinn the wolf biologist

Western tanager

Western tanager

June 18, 2015 – Perseverance 

June 19, 2015

After several days of searching for wolves and leaving Roosevelt camp at 5 am, we were rewarded with the chance to observe the Lamar Canyon wolf pack. This pack has had to persevere through the tragic death of the alpha female, but despite massive disruption and challenges, this pack has recovered. We enjoyed watching one member of the pack bring fresh kill to his brothers, and he was greeted with playful tail wagging. We watched with anticipation as the wolves stalked a pronghorn and her two fawns; however, the mother pronghorn stood her ground and the babies escaped.

Later that morning, Quinn, a researcher with the Yellowstone Wolf Project, led us on a trek to see an abandoned wolf den. He also showed us how he researches the diet of wolves by examining a bison carcass, in CSI fashion. Dawn, Michelle, and Coleen persevered in sawing through a bison femur to collect a bone marrow sample for wildlife research.

Dawn sawing the bison femur for a bone marrow sample.

Dawn sawing the bison femur for a bone marrow sample.

On the way to our afternoon hike, we witnessed the perseverance of a mother black bear as she guided her two cubs safely across a busy road in search of food. We stopped traffic to assure their safe crossing.

Finally, we challenged ourselves with a hike up to a high elevation lake and stream to witness the perseverance of cutthroat trout as they swam against the current to spawn. As we sat in an alpine meadow filled with wildflowers, reflecting on our day, we acknowledged our growing connection to this place.

teachers hiking towards a lake

Hike to Buck lake from Trout Lake.

June 17, 2015 – Teacher Teacher

June 17, 2015

(To the tune of Brown Bear, Brown Bear)

Teacher, teacher, what do you see?

I see two moose crossing the street.
Teacher, teacher, what do you see?

I see a nature guide hiking with me.
Teacher, teacher, what do you see?

I see a woodpecker nesting in a tree.
Teacher, teacher, what do you see?

I see a cougar cave… I believe.
Teacher, teacher, what do you see?

I see the place where the bear likes to sleep.
Teacher, teacher, what do you see?

I see baby owls winking at me.
Teacher, teacher, what do you see?

I see the end of the trail, yippee!

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