At Utah Virtual Academy we have many outings. In November UTVA sponsored three outings that were held throughout the state! We went to the Hilltop Hollow Horses, The Museum of Natural Curiosity, and the Red Cliffs Reserve. Each of these outings proved to be both educational and favorable among our students.
For our specific special education population, it is important to provide safe socialization opportunities within a smaller setting. This promotes and encourages our students to create relationships, to gain confidence, and to be involved in those meaningful experiences that help shape youth into capable adults.
I was lucky enough to attend the Red Cliffs outing down in the southern, Utah area. During this outing a biologist presented information about the many different creatures that live in southern Utah's ecosystem. This biologists specific area of study is the desert tortoise which resides in the Mojave Desert. We were able to see a tortoise tucked away in some of Utah's famous red rocks. We were also able to see a sick desert tortoise that the reserve had rescued. Did you know that a desert tortoise can go up to a year without drinking water? This is because the desert tortoise uses its bladder as its water storage. It is important that we do not pick up a desert tortoise when we see them in the wild for the reason that they will urinate; subsequently losing their water supply! Another famous creature that exists within this ecosystem is the Gila Monster. This animal is a venomous lizard, so if you happen to come across one on a hike... turn and walk the other way! This venomous monster has bead like skin and its bite is used as a defense measure rather than to attack prey. These are only a few of the things that we learned at the Red Cliffs Reserve. They welcome visitors so stop by if you are ever in the area!
Photos are attached for your viewing pleasure!
Utah Virtual Academy Students were given the opportunity to visit the Hilltop Hollow Horses facility in Logan, Utah. They were treated to piping hot cocoa and then pizza for lunch. While there they learned about communication and animal behavior. Each student was given the opportunity to work in pairs with a horse, they learned basic horse grooming skills, how to lead a horse, and how to train them to back up. It was all topped off by an opportunity to ride one of the horses.
Interestingly horse training has a lot to do with levels of pressure, ranging anywhere from a light touch on the coat, to pressing firmly on the bone in some cases. The ideal is to use the least amount of pressure possible to get the horse to comply. Positive reinforcement is also used as a reward. Students thoroughly enjoyed the outing and the progress made by some of them was amazing to see. Other students considered the career opportunities of working with larger animals, especially horses as a groomer, trainer, or caregiver.