Visit by 19 high school students from Yarm School in northeastern England to the Atascadero beaver dams, October 24, 2023.
photos by Brittany App
At first, hesitantly dipping their toes in the Salinas River, but ultimately getting their sea legs while witnessing the delights of Beaver habitat, a group of 19 high school students from Yarm in northeastern England and their four instructors toured the Atascadero beaver dams recently with the SLO Beaver Brigade.
Yarm School is an independent day school founded in 1978 in Yarm, North Yorkshire in the North East of England. The trip involved students majoring in biology and political science and gave the participants rich opportunities for experiencing the intersection of environmental issues and public policy on a 10-day trip through the Golden State.
Audrey Taub, Executive Director and founder of the SLO Beaver Brigade fielded a wide variety of questions from the participants, as she led them through a walk to the local beaver dams. Topics covered during the walk included characteristics of beavers, their diet, habits and dam building, as well as the benefits that beaver dams create: fire refugia, groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration and sediment and pollution capture. Two of beavers’ favorite sources of food, cottonwoods and willows, were easily visible on the walk, as were the beaver chews from these trees that also serve as building blocks for the dams. Students and teachers alike marveled at the quantity of water held back from the dams, as they saw first-hand how beaver dams create lush wetlands and capture water, contributing to the local drinking water supply. Not to be outdone by the SLO Beaver Brigade’s dedication the local watershed, the Yarm School students carried out 15 tires from the side of the River, placed there by local horseback riders and their horses that pulled them from the riverbed.
Yarm School students had a busy agenda during their trip, which included fun and educational activities at points north and south, but several students shared with SLO Beaver Brigade volunteers that the Beaver dam tour was the highlight of their experiences.
Stephen Edwards of Yarm School stated, “We felt so welcomed, so embraced into the Beaver Brigade project, and so privileged to learn from their significant insight and experiences.”