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Solving Story Problems Helps Sage Grouse

Pinedale High School algebra students used their math skills to map out plans to install markers along fencing to protect sage grouse, and then helped install the reflectors. Credit: Christine Paige.
Pinedale High School algebra students used their math skills to map out plans to install markers along fencing to protect sage grouse, and then helped install the reflectors. Credit: Christine Paige.
June 12, 2015

LARAMIE, Wyo. - Algebra students at Pinedale High School solved story problems to help sage grouse.

Teens crunched the numbers and mapped out how many fence markers would be needed on the Mesa outside Pinedale, and calculated how many volunteers would be optimal to efficiently install the markers.

Nic Rogers, program coordinator at the Wyoming Community Foundation for Wildlife, pitched the idea to the school and explained that sage grouse don't have very good eyesight.

"So when they get up to fly from the lek, for instance, from their nesting site or anything, they fly into it and end up dying," he said. "A little piece of white vinyl with a reflector on it flapping in the wind is enough for them to see it."

Rogers said the Mesa is home to a diverse array of wildlife with a landscape that also is home to drilling and ranching. His organization is ensuring that wildlife will have safe zones for raising their young and migration.

The students stepped outside the classroom to install several thousand markers last week, covering five miles of fencing. Rogers said the math students weren't the only young people involved in the project.

"And it's really cool on the other side of it," he said. "Medicine Bow FFA and 4-H club and a local Boy Scout troop, they got a grant from the NRCS to make the markers."

About nine more miles of fencing need to be tagged before the end of summer, and more volunteers are needed.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY