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Storm drain art

Americorps volunteers Jessica Thomas and Kelsie Kema paint the first of several planned storm drain art projects.

ELKO – Nevada Outdoor School is offering a variety of outdoor education programs and camps in the Elko area and hopes the Elko City Council can contribute money to the help the nonprofit school.

First, however, NOS Executive Director Melanie Erquiaga told the council at its July 24 meeting she wanted to outline what the school does in Elko because “we really, really do a lot” through its programs for children, AmeriCorps for adults and “promoting responsible recreation.”

Nevada Outdoor School still needs to go through the city’s application process for a contribution.

The Nevada Outdoor School started in Winnemucca 15 years ago and came to Elko in 2016, opening a satellite office at the Elko Parks and Recreation building. The office was an in-kind donation to NOS, which has since outgrown the space there and moved to 2363 Fifth St.

The AmeriCorps program provides community service opportunities for adults at a stipend of $1,200 a month and offers an education award of $5,645 at the end of their service for college or to help pay off student loans, Erquiaga said.

In Nevada, more than 30 AmeriCorps members serve Elko, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Wells, Lovelock, Gerlach and Reno in northern Nevada, according to the brochure handed to council members.

A recent Elko AmeriCorps effort was painting around storm drains in the city, Jackie Lucero, Elko director of programming for NOS, said on July 25.

Another program is the outdoor ethics program that includes the Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace training to promote stewardship of the land. This part of the school also involves road shows, special events, summer camps and classroom work.

NOS also has educational programing during the school year, providing nature-based science lessons in a hands-on approach, as well as field trips.

In the summer, the school offers a summer adventure program. One adventure is planned for Great Basin Park, and Erquiaga said NOS is looking for more sign-ups for that event.

Erquiaga said the NOS programs “area really programs of substance. Sometimes environmental education gets people’s hackles up,” but she said the school teaches how to use natural resources.

“We are all stewards of the land,” said Elko Councilman John Patrick Rice.

Council member Mandy Simons told Erquiaga she “appreciates all you do,” and her children love the programs.

A summary presented to council members shows the Elko education and outreach initiatives reached 6,081 participants from last October to this June, including in classrooms, on field trips, camps and community outreach.

As one example, the school has been doing the Second Grade Watershed field trip for the Elko County School District for six years, according to the report.

Along with seeking donations for the school, NOS holds the annual Buckaroo Dutch Oven Cookoff. This year’s event is Aug. 11 at Vesco Park in Winnemucca. The school’s main support, however, comes from grants.

The school’s annual report for 2017 states that more than 61 percent of revenue comes from federal grants, such as from AmeriCorps and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The Nevada State Parks Division provided more than $60,000. Corporations also contributed, such as the Newmont Legacy Fund, nearly $60,000. Barrick Gold Corp., SSR Mining-Marigold, Small Mine Development and NV Energy also contributed, to name a few of the companies and nonprofit organizations listed. The Elko Convention and Visitors Authority provided $6,000, the report shows.

NOS has a website at info@NevadaOutdoorSchool.org. The Elko office phone number is 775-777-0814.

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