Six students and two teachers from Anaktuvak Pass, an Iñupiat village north of the Arctic circle, visited the Methow two weeks ago, part of an exchange with a dozen students from the Methow Valley Community School, who traveled to the Arctic last year.
The group hiked trails, where they learned about (and tasted) spring flowers and got insights into prey animals and hunting in the Methow.
At the Methow Valley Interpretive Center, they shared lessons on plants that can be made into fiber. A stop at Classroom in Bloom was particularly interesting, since the Arctic climate doesn’t allow for much gardening. Other activities included a visit to a fish hatchery and the recycling center.
After building boats and racing them at the Confluence of the Methow and Twisp rivers, many of the kids even took a dip in the water.
Compared with the wildlife they see in the Arctic — such as caribou, grizzly bears and ptarmigan — the young visitors found even the Methow’s squirrels especially intriguing.
The exchange was meaningful to all the young people. “It was such an amazing experience for the students from both Anaktuvuk Pass and the Methow Valley, and I think that everyone who was a part of this program would agree,” said William Halpin, an avid photographer who was a sixth-grader at the community school last year, in the final year of the school. “I think we all have been changed by this amazing experience.”