Antler Math and Memories

Courtesy & © Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

Courtesy & © Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

Courtesy & © Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer 7- and 8-year-olds with tape measures in their hands eagerly grasp at hard, smooth yet knobby, tined objects. These students are my 2nd-graders at USU’s Edith Bowen Laboratory School, and they are working on a measurement, addition, and estimation math lesson in small groups. This lesson isn’t a normal math lesson where students follow along in a textbook and complete standardized problem. Instead, this lesson centers around a natural artifact from the Utah wild. The students are measuring and exploring deer and elk antlers.
All three images:
Courtesy & © Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer

Growing up, I was surrounded by rural friends and family. Much of their livelihoods and lifestyles revolved around the outdoors, and it was commonplace to enter their homes or ranches to see spindly antlers laying on mantles, mounted above doors, or carefully placed in gardens to add a western feel. Over the years, I made my own personal connection to antlers such as when I found one when I was chucker partridge hunting up Blacksmith Fork Canyon with my trusty Springer Spaniel, Wyatt, who is no longer here to share such adventures. Each antler is a memory, each one makes me reminisce on an outdoor adventure that will only live on as a thought.

As a teacher, I am always pondering ways to make learning more relatable to students, and one day realized the method employed by professionals to score antlers would be a meaningful way for my students to practice measurement! So, I loaded up the truck with my collection of outdoor memories, and brought them to school.

I launched the activity and each and every eye lit up at the sight of an antler. We hadn’t even begun the activity yet and my students started sharing their own memories of times with their family that related to antlers; a rafting excursion on the Green River, an elk hunting trip with their dad and big brother, or even a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park where they saw lots of bull elk. These stories were powerful to the students, and powerful to me.

We continued with the measurement activity and each student group collaborated to measure the tines and three circumferences of each antler. Then, they would struggle, and succeed, to add all those sub-measurements together to get a total score for that antler, which we collected as data. Groups would rotate to a new, unique antler and repeat this process, collecting student-generated data which we compiled. By the end, our data consisted of multiple scores for each antler, as various groups had scored each one. We analyzed the data, looked at discrepancies in scores, posed and solved antler math problems, and even ended the activity by showing a new antler that hadn’t been scored, having all the students make a visual estimation of the total score for the antler, and then giving the antler to the student who made the closest estimation.

In the end, this activity brought together what I value in education. It connected to the place and culture in which my students live, was directly focused on academic content needed by my students, and elicited engagement and personal stories from my students. In a perfect world, all my lessons would be as powerful and relatable to students as this one was. In fact, right before leaving for Spring Break one of my students declared “We’re going to stay at an elk ranch in Southern Utah so I can try to see some antlers!”

On normal years, your family is welcome to collect antlers year-round, only needing a free gathering certificate between February 1st-April 15th ( However this year due to the harsh winter, Division of Wildlife Resources put a ban on the activity until May 1st

This is Dr. Joseph Kozlowski, and I am Wild about Utah!


Images: Courtesy & Copyright Joseph Kozlowski, Photographer, Used by Permission
Audio: Courtesy & © Friend Weller,
Text:     Joseph Kozlowski, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University
Additional Reading Links: Joseph Kozlowski

Additional Reading:

Joseph (Joey) Kozlowski’s pieces on Wild About Utah:

Gathering shed antlers or horns, Take the Antler Gathering Ethics Course between Feb. 1
and April 15., Division of Wildlife Resources, Department of Natural Resources, State of

DWR implements emergency statewide restrictions for shed antler hunting to help
protect wintering big game in Utah, Division of Wildlife Resources, Department of Natural
Resources, State of Utah,

Earth Day Musings & Proclamation

Earth Day Musings & Proclamation: Earth as a Blue Marble Courtesy NASA
Earth as a Blue Marble
Courtesy NASA
Earth Day is an annual global Thanksgiving for Mother Earth, and a celebration of the people who advocate for legislation to protect the earth on local, state, and national levels. While encouraging individual actions and mindful living, Earth Day is a testament to the enduring need for collective action, for which water is a great example for Utah, the Great Salt Lake, and the “over 10 Million birds, represented by 338 species, [which] utilize the Great Salt Lake and its associated wetlands and uplands”.(1) We are water aware, we mind each drop of rain water, stormwater, wastewater, and drinking water, and we rely on the trees and water-efficient landscape choices to help slow, spread, and store some of that rain. Our good choices make for a good difference, so it is particularly heartening that we are celebrating Earth Day. Kudos to Cache Community Connections, the Bridgerland Audubon Society, and the City of Logan for the 2023 Earth Day Proclamation by Logan City Mayor Holly Daines, which I will now read in full:
Earth Day Proclamation

Whereas, The first Earth Day was enacted in 1970 and engaged over twenty million Americans to advocate for a cleaner environment; and

Whereas, Earth Day has now become a worldwide event and has highlighted some of the most critical environmental issues on the world stage; and

Whereas, Cache Valley hosts 323 species of birds, a wealth of trees, waterways, parks and trails; and

Whereas, The City of Logan seeks to protect the Logan River watershed with native plants, and mitigate the decline of the Great Salt Lake; and

Whereas, Logan supports projects which demonstrate and encourage energy conservation, sustainability, and the usage of renewable energy; and

Whereas in 2016 the Logan City Council unanimously adopted a resolution “SUPPORTING POLICY AND ACTIVITIES WHICH ADDRESS AIR QUALITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE”, and

Whereas, Logan challenges every resident to help in conserving and protecting the environment via green activities, such as recycling, water and energy conservation, tree planting, and active education about environmental issues; and

Whereas, This year, Earth Day will celebrate its 53rd anniversary of promoting the value of a healthy planet, which is our health, and respect for all who live on it;

Now Therefore, Holly Daines, Mayor of the City of Logan, does hereby proclaim Friday, April 21, 2023 as Earth Day in the City of Logan, and urges our Logan community to join us in efforts to help protect and preserve our environment for present and future generations.

I like that closing line – “To help protect and preserve our environment for present and future generations.” What a nice way to inspire us all to actions great and small!

I’m Hilary Shughart with the Bridgerland Audubon Society, and I am Wild About Utah Public Radio and Wild About Utah!

Images: Courtesy NASA
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Kevin Colver,
Text: Hilary Shughart, President, Bridgerland Audubon Society
Additional Reading: Hilary Shughart and Lyle Bingham,

Additional Reading

WildAboutUtah pieces by Hilary Shughart,

Birds An avian oasis, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Department of Natural Resources, State of Utah,

Logan River Task Force to encourage restoration and long-term conservation of the Logan River,

The Logan River watershed is located in the heart of the Bear River range with headwaters near the Utah-Idaho border. The river flows southwest through Logan Canyon – a landscape dominated by formerly glaciated peaks, limestone cliffs, and the occasional sinkhole.,

Earth Day,

Resolution # 16-06 A Resolution Supporting Policy and Activities Which Address Air Quality and Climate Change, Mayor Holly Daines,

Sled Dogs-Sheer Joy

Sled Dogs-Sheer Joy: Sun, Snow, Sheer Joy, Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
Sun, Snow, Sheer Joy
Courtesy & © Mary Heers, Photographer
As the snow continued to pile up this winter, I started to ask around about sled dogs.

I soon bumped into a friend who had a friend in Preston who trained and occasionally raced his team of 14 Alaskan Huskies.

This musher graciously offered to give me a ride on one of his training runs. I showed up all smiles as he was harnessing his team. The dogs were excited to go and actually howling with happiness. The musher asked if I wanted to get in – or ride up the trail a bit on a snowmobile with his teenage son to a more level spot. In a rare moment of sanity, I opted for the snowmobile.

The machine had just pulled out of the yard when I heard his son say, “Oh, No!”

I looked back in time to see the sled tip over, sending the musher sliding across the driveway and under my car parked at the end of it. I jumped off the snowmobile as the dogs shot past us with the empty sled. The dogs were gaining on a truck up ahead, then shot past it with the snowmobile in hot pursuit.

I was left standing in a snowbank wondering if I’d wandered into a James Bond movie.

My first encounter with sled dogs had gone a lot smoother. I was visiting Denali National Park in Alaska and the rangers were introducing us to one of the dog teams that they still use to patrol the park.

But the most famous sled dogs are the freight teams that carried anti-toxin from Anchorage to Nome during an outbreak of Diphtheria in 1925. The dog teams ran a thousand miles and are credited with saving hundreds of lives.

For the last 50 years, modern mushers have retraced this journey in the ultimate sled dog race, the Ididarod. The best account I’ve read about the world of training sled dogs and running the Ididarod is Gary Paulsen’s book Winterdance. Just before going on a training ride, he discovered, “the gangline was trembling, quivering like a string on a guitar. It fairly hummed and I felt there was great power there. The trees in the yard went by in a mad blur and we left the yard at warp speed.”

Paulsen also lets us in on the deep relationship mushers form with their dogs: “As they understand you will give them meat when they run, and love when they run, and your soul when they run – as they learn to feel that, understand that, know that – they are no longer sled dogs – they become distance dogs, dogs that cannot, will not be stopped.” Paulson ran the Iditarod in 1983. It was a wild ride that took 17 days. But he finished.

Meanwhile, back in Preston, our teenage hero had caught up with the runaway team, made a flying leap from the snowmobile onto the empty sled, and somehow managed to stop the team. Pretty soon the musher and I caught up.

“Do you still want to get in?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said.

And we were off. The dogs settled into a steady trot. From then on it was all Sun and Snow and the sheer Joy of sliding quietly through the magnificent winter scenery.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah

Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers
Text: Mary Heers,
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

Paulsen, Gary, Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod, Harvest Books, HarperCollins February 17, 1995,

Idaho Sled Dog Challenge,

Atmospheric Rivers

Atmospheric Rivers: The Great Salt Lake, Courtesy Pixabay, David Mark, Contributor
The Great Salt Lake
Courtesy Pixabay, David Mark, Contributor
I love rivers, especially atmospheric rivers, thanks Hawaii! Poor California. Will it ever end! As atmospheric rivers continue to destroy California, our mountains get the leftovers, which I’ve enjoyed immensely as an avid Nordic skier.

Having attended the USU Spring Runoff Conference, and the Northern Utah Water conference last week, driving streets which have become snow tunnels, an epic year of snowfall is all too apparent, possibly eclipsing the ‘011 epic year.

The Great Salt Lake welcomes every drop, while our cities brace for potential floods, a repeat of ’83 when Salt Lake City’s State Street became a favorite kayak route and trout fishery! Soil moisture is being replenished which is far more favorable to aquafer recharge and agriculture. Some reservoirs are even releasing water to prevent catastrophic overflow. We find ourselves filling sandbags anticipating the worst.

Atmospheric rivers, “giant conveyor belts of water in the sky”, cause the moisture-rich “Pineapple Express” storm systems that come from the Pacific Ocean, especially Hawaii, several times annually and are more common in the winter. From October 2018 to spring 2019, there were 47 atmospheric rivers, 12 of which were rated strong or extreme, in Washington, Oregon and California. In some parts of the world, changes in atmospheric humidity and heat caused by climate change are expected to increase the intensity and frequency of extreme weather and flood events caused by atmospheric rivers. This is expected to be especially prominent in the Western United States and Canada.

Atmospheric rivers have a central role in the global water cycle. On any given day, atmospheric rivers account for over 90% of the north-south water vapor transport. They are a major factor in extreme precipitation events that cause severe flooding in many mid-latitude, westerly coastal regions of the world. Equally, the absence of atmospheric rivers has been linked to the occurrence of droughts in several parts of the world.

Our Great Salt Lake has risen about 1 1/2 feet since it’s 2022 historic low. The LDS church is donating 20 thousand acre feet, about 0.3 % of what’s needed. They are hoping others will follow suite. Another 7 million acre feet of water is needed to create the once thriving salt lake ecosystem according to The Great Salt Lake Strike Team, a combination of two Utah research universities and three Utah agencies. They suggest water donations are one of the more cost-effective and efficient solutions for getting water back into the lake. Donations could help reduce this significant deficit, since human consumption accounts for about two-thirds of the lake’s decline.

Here in Cache Valley, our high school students will be competing with each other in “Saving the Great Salt Lake” to see which school can most effectively engage their schools and communities in reducing water consumption. Cash prizes will be awarded to all participating schools, along with a tree to plant on their school grounds or another public space. Contact for further information.

This is Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon, and you guessed it-I’m wild about Utah and it’s Great Salty Lake!

Ponderosa Pine Pictures: Courtesy Pixabay, David Mark, Contributor
Audio: Courtesy & © Friend Weller, and Kevin Colver,
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon,
Additional Reading: Lyle W Bingham, Webmaster, and Jack Greene, Author, Bridgerland Audubon,

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah,

Greene, Jack, The Great Salt Lake, Wild About Utah, April 11, 2016,

Greene, Jack. 2020. I Love Snow. Wild About Utah,

Larese-Casanova, Mark. 2014. Utah’s Rich Skiing History. Wild About Utah,

Liberatore, Andrea. 2011. Snowflakes. Wild About Utah,

Strand, Holly. 2009. A Utah Skier’s Snow Lexicon. Wild About Utah,