Sebastopol fourth-graders enjoy living history

  • A representative of the Russian Consulate lights a canon while militia members (l to r) Trevor Ward, Duncan Thorp, Danny Walters and Nick Belland and interpreter Hank Bimbaum cover their ears at Fort Ross State Historic Park on Thursday. Over 3,000 students each year participate in the Environmental Living Program and spend the night in the historic fort after months of study in their classrooms. Fourth graders from Gravenstein Elementary School in Sebastopol were assigned tasks that were part of daily life at the former Russian outpost when it was active from 1812-1840. The militia slept in the blockhouse next to six canons and were required to man a two-hour watch in the night. Other students were cooks, hunters, gardeners and artisans.

Fourth-grade students from Gravenstein Elementary School enjoyed -- or at least endured -- daily life in an old Russian fort Thursday when the donned period clothing and were assigned tasks at Fort Ross Historic Park.

The students, among the 3,000 who participate each year in the Environmental Living Program at the fort, became cooks, hunters, gardeners and artisans as they learned lessons provided by park interpreters.

On this day, they were joined by a representative of the Russian Consulate who lit the booming canon as the young ?militia? members held their ears and stood in rapt attention.

Fort Ross Historic Park Visit


But this was more than just a field trip. The students also spent the night, and were required to pull two-hour shifts of guard duty.

Hank Birmbaum, one of the park?s interpreters told the children that the Russians were active in the area and maintain the outpost from 1812-1841.

According to the state parks website, Fort Ross was the southernmost settlement in the Russian colonization of the North American continent.

The park is 12 miles north of Jenner on Highway 1. For more information, see http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=449.

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