By The Banner Staff
The Duncan Banner
Through a grant-funded trip, students with the Empire High School Gifted and Talented program visited Capulin Volcano National Monument in Capulin, New Mexico recently.
Coordinator Matt Tillson along with Empire teachers Lisa Hill and Jason Allensworth took nine students for the five-day field trip where the students learned about climate change, greenhouse gasses, and traveled to an Earthship in Taos, New Mexico, that was made entirely of recyclable materials.
“This was an amazing opportunity for us,” Empire sophomore Skyllar Golden said. “It gave us a new understanding of what we do with our natural resources can make an impact on not just us, but the world.”
The interactive learning field trip put the Empire students and staff to several challenges — including hiking up the non-active volcano, in the day and at night.
Dustin Curtis, an Empire sophomore said the hikes added an extra element to the trip.
“I liked the hiking on the trip because we learned a lot of different things not just about the volcano, but about other things about nature,” Curtis said. “The view from different parts of the volcano was pretty awesome from seeing the other volcanoes to seeing four different states at one time.”
While the students were familiar with one another, their trip really allowed some to come out of their comfort zone. Empire junior Cassy Hill said the adults that went on the trip and the Park Rangers helped everyone have fun.
“I loved getting to get out of my comfort zone,” Cassy said. “I’d never had an opportunity like this before and it was exciting to go out there and meet new people. Mr. Tillson really encouraged us to take advantage of this opportunity and I’m very thankful for that.”
Tillson echoed Hill’s sentiments about the trip and the fun each of them had.
“I’ve had so much fun working with these kids this year and getting the chance to take them on this trip was such a great experience for the students as well as myself, Mrs. Hill and Coach Allensworth,” he said. “I had so much fun from the time we loaded the bus all the way until we pulled back into the parking lot.”
Cassy’s experience was so great, she will be returning to the area for a six week internship.
“After leaving I realized I wanted to learn more about Capulin Volcano,” she said. “I was told about an internship opening and I immediately jumped at the opportunity to go back to New Mexico.”
During her internship Cassy will be talking to visitors informing them of the volcano and also learning a little more herself.
“I can’t say enough how great it is working with the students and the staff at Empire,” Tillson said. “The administration from Mrs. (Vicki) Davison, Mrs. (Jodi) Roberts and Mr. (Josh) Skiles are great and I’m thankful for them along with the school board for allowing us to take this trip. With any luck we will be able to do this in the future.”