Student holding and touching a beaver's fur at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center.

Amidst the towering trees and whispers of the wilderness, a group of young adventurers embarked on a survival field trip that would reveal a few of nature’s secrets. 

W.D. Williams Elementary fourth graders are delving deep into the gripping pages of “Hatchet,” by Gary Paulsen. This story tells of one man’s survival in the unforgiving wilderness and the steps he took to overcome Mother Nature. In order to learn some of the best survival techniques, the group met with local park rangers. 

“In our literacy unit we learn about extreme settings and how different types of settings impact characters in stories,” said fourth-grade teacher Hannah Harvey. “Taking them to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center expanded our students' knowledge about animals and plants among the Appalachian Mountains.”

Ms. Harvey said this trip not only helped students visualize the content and vocabulary from the book, but it also helped them gain some important life-saving skills for the future.

“I think it’s important for students to not only have this experience to relate to our reading, but to know that they can utilize this knowledge for the rest of their lives,” she said. “They learned about how different animals adapted to the wilderness, which ones are predators and prey, and how to save someone from hypothermia. Every fourth grader went home with a free park pass that will get them into every National Park in the country!”

Blue Ridge Parkway Ranger showing students different animal fur.