There is just something about wolves that makes them unforgettable, especially when you get right up close and personal with these amazing animals. On July 18-24, 2009, the Cottonwood Institute took eight brave students out on their Endangered Wolves and Animal Tracking Project. Not only did they pet the wolves, but they came right up to give the students a big, wet kiss on the face!
The course took place at a wolf sanctuary called Mission: Wolf in the Wet Mountain Valley just south of Westcliff, Colorado. Lead by Cottonwood Institute Instructors Brittany Salley-Rains and Ryan Bovard-Johns, the students met the wolves, learned about their behavior and their importance in the ecosystem and fed the wolves. They helped out around the sanctuary by collecting firewood and lending a hand in the beginning stages of building a tepee for future volunteers to stay in.
In addition to their work with the wolves, the participants also learned important wilderness survival skills, including an awesome demonstration of hand and bow drill fire making by Mission Wolf Volunteer Andy Elmgren. They also went on fun hikes, participated in stalking games, nature awareness, and animal tracking activities.
“The course was sick,” says James Hanifin (a.k.a. Night Hawk) a junior at New Vista High School in Boulder. James took the course because he wanted to chill with the wolves. When asked about his experience James said, “The wolves were sweet, I gained a lot of respect for the wolves and learned a bunch of survival skills.”
Zamantha Quezada of Englewood, Colorado found out about the course from her niece and thought it sounded interesting. “I liked the course, I liked getting to be with the wolves and petting and feeding them.” Zamantha plans and returning to Mission: Wolf to volunteer so she can spend more time with the wolves.