Aztec Ruins National Monument’s Adopted Class of 2016 has already taken its sophomore year field trip to the park. Twenty-four students from Bloomfield High School’s gifted program built on last year’s experiences by completing a service-learning project and crafting traditional buckskin pouches during a day in the park.
The students arrived on a much warmer day than last year’s spring field trip. They recognized several of the rangers and were quick to remember that they will graduate when the National Park Service turns 100.
Last year a ranger visited their classroom to talk about the Civilian Conservation Corps. This year they worked to preserve the legacy of the CCC by planting cottonwood trees in the picnic area, a part of one of the park’s designated cultural landscapes. It is shaded by tall, aging cottonwoods planted by the CCC in 1935 and a few invasive Siberian elms. The trees the students planted will provide shade when the old cottonwoods die and will allow the park to remove the invasives. After all twenty-five trees were planted, the students took a tour of the park’s heritage garden with ranger Dana Hawkins.
After a quick lunch they gathered around for an activity with cultural educators from Laguna Pueblo, one of many tribes that can trace ancestry back to Aztec Ruins. John Herrera and his assistant taught the students how to make traditional buckskin pouches.
“This is where we keep special things, for ceremonies or just as a way to thank the creator for another day,” explained Mr. Herrera.
The students sewed, beaded, and painted the pouches; they also discussed what to put inside them. Many of the students crowded around Herrera to have him paint Pueblo designs on their pieces and to hear him explain the significance of the images in his worldview.
As they boarded the bus the students gave clear instructions to park staff. “Make sure those trees get enough water!” In responce, park staff insisted that students return to see their efforts grow. During the rest of the 2013-2014 school year, the students will receive a ranger visit about archeoastronomy and have a chance to use a solar telescope. Their next field trip will be in 2014.