KALISPELL - The Flathead National Forest celebrates forestry education by kicking off the Annual Family Forestry Expo.
5th graders across Flathead Valley are took their classroom outdoors Monday to learn about the environment.
"It's really important because it allows us to tie what we're doing in the classroom to the world they live in," Elrod Teacher James Deering said.
Every spring for the past 24 years, staffers from the Flathead National Forest welcome students and families to explore nature.
The expo provides educational presentations for students to learn about natural resource topics. Elrod Elementary Student Izaak Hawksons said he enjoys learning about the forest and its habitats.
"We've been learning about covering up our tracks when we are camping and fishing, naming our fish and really educational things lots of cool stuff," Hawksons said.
All day each group of students walked the trails and explored the environment while learning about fishery wildlife and archaeology. Fishery Technician Kyren Zimmerman said the students were excited to learn how to identify water creatures.
"They've been asking everything from just what type of fish are in the systems and learning about fish identifications," Zimmerman said.
At lunch time, students participated in a safety hazard demonstration with forest specialists.
Flathead National Forest Specialists Teresa Wenum said its important for students to learn how to tread lightly while camping in the back country.
"They learned about how to go light on the land when their out, sharing the trail whether there hiking or on there mountain bike or horse riding," Wenum said.
As the expo wraps up its first full day of outdoor activities, Izaak said he enjoyed spending his classroom day learning about the great outdoors.
"It really feels good to be outside the wilderness is very beautiful with birds and chip monks," Hawksons said.
Expo Officials said more than 14,000 5th grade students from 31 schools across the Valley are scheduled to visit the forest. Saturday, the expo opens to the public and is free of charge.