Big Thompson Elementary

River Rangers Program

The flooding Big Thompson River tore through Sylvan Dale Ranch on September 13, 2013 destroying buildings, ponds, and vegetation and leaving behind thousands of tons of trash, sand, and debris.

The flood left behind quite a mess, but it also created a living laboratory, enabling the opportunity to study flood ecology in action.  

Teachers from Conrad Ball Middle School and Big Thompson Elementary School connected to give students a chance to collect real-world data to see how the river corridor recovers over time. 

In the first two years of the project, 48 students were selected to be involved in the project, with 24 teams made of one 7th or 8th grader and one 4th grader working together to document changes through photographs, drawings, species counts (plants, animals), technical writing, and mapping.

The effort now continues with the entire 4th grade class from Big T Elementary, 40 students who visit Sylvan Dale Ranch three times each year (September – January – May) to document changes in the condition of the river corridor from both natural and human-assisted ecosystem recovery efforts. 

Photos, drawings, maps, and data will be shared on this webpage, and over time people around the world will have the chance to view the changing river corridor.

The 4th grade River Rangers have now taken on a new challenge, helping to design a River Walk along the Big Thompson through Sylvan Dale Ranch that explores the rich human history and natural history that makes this place such an incredible outdoor classroom. Students are researching topics of interest at Sylvan Dale and learning how to design interpretive signs.

Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning
PO Box 2736, Loveland, CO 80539
Tax ID#: 46-4993961
HJC is a 501(c)3 charitable organization