Students cruise through Earth Day |

Students cruise through Earth Day

Roseann Keegan
Roseann Keegan / Tahoe Daily TribuneA student looks at Vikingsholm as the

ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. – More than 300 local fourth graders set sail Thursday aboard the M.S. Dixie II for a three-hour Earth Day-themed cruise. For many of the children, it was their first time on a boat. For some, it was their first time to Lake Tahoe.

“Some of our students have never seen Lake Tahoe,” said Sue Linn, a fourth-grade teacher at Jacks Valley Elementary School in north Minden.

Even with slight snow and rain, teachers found the event worth the trip to Zephyr Cove.

“It kept the kids’ attention and they were very interested,” Linn said.

Other schools included Tahoe Valley Elementary, Bijou Elementary, St. Theresa School and the Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School.

Each school broke into two groups and rotated among presentations by the U.S. Forest Service, Tahoe Douglas Fire District, Nevada Fire Safe Council, South Tahoe Public Utility District, Explore Tahoe and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.

Students learned about the geology and ecology of the region, recycling, local wildlife and fire safety. As the boat approached Emerald Bay, students braved the cold temperatures to visit the top deck and hear a narrative about Emerald Bay geology and Vikingsholm.

“We got to learn about recycling and we got to go on the M.S. Dixie, which is one of the best times,” said Tucker Leonard, 10, a fourth-grader from Tahoe Valley Elementary.

Now in its second year, the event was organized by Lake Tahoe Cruises and Zephyr Cove Resort. Austin Saas, director of sales and marketing, said the event is part of an effort by parent company Aramark to host stewardship events across the country.

Shelly Barnes, water conservation specialist for the South Tahoe Public Utility District, hosted a blind taste test at her station.

Three coolers were on a table: One held bottled water, the second had water from STPUD, the third was filled water from Incline Village General Improvement District.

Students lined up for a sample of each, then gave Barnes the number for the cooler with the best-tasting water.

When the votes were tallied, Barnes revealed that the water from STPUD was the winner.

Students were encouraged to recycle water bottles, or simply drink from the tap.

“There’s this perception that bottled water tastes better, but that’s not always the case,” Barnes said.

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