Back Country Horsemen celebrate “Sharing Trails Education Day”

From left, student participants put on a skit during the Sharing Trails Education Day Friday at the Fergus County Fairgrounds Livestock Pavilion. Students went through seven stations and then performed a skit showing what they learned.   

Photo by Charlie Denison

The Judith Basin Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Montana, in partnership with the Lewistown Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, produced their fifth annual “Sharing Trails Education Day,” on Friday, April 21, at the Sale Ring and Riding Pavilion on the Fergus County Fairgrounds.

“Sharing Trails Education Day” is a hands-on, interactive learning experience. This year sixth-grade students from Lewis and Clark, Moore, Judith Gap and Central Montana Home School groups participated, including 90 students, 13 chaperons and teachers and over 20 volunteers and presenters.

The day began with a skit demonstrating safety and etiquette guidelines when meeting other back trail users in the wilderness, i.e., horsemen meeting ATVs. The importance of communicating, being safe and respecting other trail users is always emphasized.

 Students circulate on cue among a variety of stations with hands-on activities involving GPS usage, map reading, day packs/survival, hiking, first aid/Search and Rescue, weed identification and eradication, horse behaviors, snowmobile education, ATV and motorcycle education, biking tips and public stewardship. All stations focus on the importance of knowing and practicing backcountry trail etiquette and safety.


Those hosting learning stations were:

• Noxious Weed Education – Fergus Weed District, Brady Cannon presenter;

• GPS Usage – Bureau of Land Management, Andy Oestreich and Cienna Mrnak presenters;

• “Have a great hike!” – Bureau of Land Management, Abby Kirkaldie and Shannon Bonney presenters;

• ATV/Motorcycle/NOHVCC Trailer – Lewistown Honda, Erin Proctor presenter;

• Snowmobile/Avalanche Education – Little Belts Snowmobile Club, Matt Helm and Darrell Tuss presenters;

• Leave No Trace Education – United States Forest Service/Nicole Jenks and Judith Basin Back Country Horsemen/Bridgett Johnson and Gene Couch presenters; and

•First Aid – Bureau of Land Management, Kaylene Patten and Jon Edwards and Central Montana Search and Rescue, Pete Petersen and Linda Birdwell presenters.

Each session was 20 minutes in duration and included a Q and A opportunity.

In addition to reaching local sixth-grade students with hands-on learning experiences and back country trail safety and etiquette information, those participating as presenters in “Sharing Trails” over the last five years have developed a sincere respect and empathy for each other.

This year’s “Sharing Trails Education Day” was chaired by Travis Rixford of the Lewistown Field Office of the BLM and Henry Gottardi of the Judith Basin Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Montana. Jo Eggers assisted Henry Gottardi from Judith Basin. Photography at “Sharing Trails Education Day” was covered by Jonathan Moor/BLM Public Affairs and Al Eggers/Judith Basin. Kaylene Patten/BLM severed as the event Safety Officer.

Remember, when enjoying Central Montana’s awesome backcountry trails, respect and communicate with other users, yield when appropriate and be safe.



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