Snowshoeing with the 5th Graders of Tahoe Unified School District

In keeping with our commitment to community and the environment, Heavenly and EpicPromise, a Vail Resorts sustainability program, have designed and sponsored a real-world education series for every 5th grader in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

EpicPromise is a company-wide commitment to creating a more promising future for generations to come. Vail Resorts wholeheartedly believes in preserving the intrinsic essence of the natural environments and communities where we work, play and call home. And here at Heavenly, that commitment manifests in the stewardship and education efforts we see on the mountain and in our Tahoe community.

The 5th Grade Snowshoe Program was designed to give each 5th grader in the Tahoe area the opportunity to learn about the environment in our very own Heavenly forested high alpine setting. The program launched on January 21st and ran for 5 Thursdays over the following 2 months.


What did the 5th graders experience on their adventure?

-Students enjoyed sight-seeing from the Aerial Tram while ascending the mountain, from lake level to 8,250 feet.

-Each student had a pair of snowshoes strapped to their feet and was introduced to the sport in a safe and structured environment.

-Students enjoyed sight-seeing from the Aerial Tram while ascending the mountain, from lake level to 8,250 feet.

Sierra Avalanche Center & Ski Patrol shared: snow science basics, snow pit demonstrations, and avalanche safety & awareness.

Tahoe Institute for Natural Science gave instruction on: tree identification, habitat, local critters, and identifying animal tracks.

-Heavenly Snowmaking Science/Conservation demonstrated: nucleation, temperature and humidity as they relate to wet-bulb temperature, snow depth measurements, restoration of uphill slopes, erosion control, and the dynamics of our watershed.


The program culminated after 5 weeks of adventure and hands-on learning. Heavenly’s Environmental Manager, Frank Papandrea, summarizes the experience and shared his thoughts on the success of the program:

“I have been personally inspired by the time commitment and help we received from many Heavenly Departments including: Ski Patrol, Guest Services, and Snowmaking. The 5th graders, teachers, and chaperones that came through the snowmaking science station, seemed amazed at what it takes to make man-made snow. It was fun to share with the youth our commitment to sustainable business practices, and highlight the restoration efforts that have been focused on our slopes and trails especially near our creeks. I look forward to continuing to participate and enhance this very cool environmental education program”

-Frank G. Papandrea, Heavenly Environmental Manager

Take a peek at Mountain Resort Television Tahoe‘s coverage of the final 5th Grade Snowshoe Program expedition below.




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