The initial idea for the trip came from teachers Willie Zamora, Colleen Alexander Green, Ed Thomas and Dave Palguta about 10 years ago when they were part of a Miami University class with a field station in Dubois, Wyoming. While the teachers were there, they realized it would be a wonderful opportunity for students. After two years of organization, they were ready to show kids the culture and science of the western part of the country.
The group flies to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the they attend orientation, a reenactment of a shoot-out in town square and a rodeo. For the next few days they go hiking, take a boat tour and attend a show to learn about cowboy culture. They also have a summer snowball fight on top of Mt. Rendezvous, where Palguta jokes he always becomes the target.
Towards the end of the trip, they head to Dubois and stay in cabins at Crooked Creek Ranch. At the ranch, the have a campfire with skits, a singing cowgirl and get the chance to hear from a survivalist. They hike to waterfalls, ride on horseback around Brooks Lake, canoe at Colter Bay and square dance with locals before heading back to Ohio.
To make the trip as affordable as possible, it is chaperoned by a group of volunteer teachers and retired teachers. It also is booked through a non-profit group, rather than a travel company. Palguta thinks the price is well worth it, as it is the perfect combination of education and fun.
“It’s a really great learning experience for kids,” said Palguta. “Of course, they get to see what they’ve learned about in person and up close. But beyond that, they have the opportunity to see how other people live. They see that kids their age in Wyoming go to rodeos or go square dancing, which isn’t what they do in Ohio. It opens their eyes to different cultures within the United States.”