Taking a tour of Tubbs

Sorensen third-graders create guide to popular hiking destination

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Kennedy Krajack, 9, looks back toward the tree line of Tubbs Hill as her classmates Ethan Hanes, left, Porter Howard and Ethan Schwegel, all 8, identify different species of trees located in their "Junior Friends of Tubbs Hill" field guide Friday during a hike with their third-grade class from Sorenson Magnet School.

COEUR d'ALENE - Quick, who's Tubbs Hill named after?

Tony Tubbs, of course.

Michael Gambel knew that, and the third grade Sorensen Elementary school student even circled the hill's namesake in the latest book to come out on Coeur d'Alene's downtown jewel - a tour guide designed by Michael and his classmates.

"I'm pretty sure," he said.

It's right. It says so in the book.

Called "Junior Friends of Tubbs Hill," the 16-page guide incorporates games and lessons for kids to follow as they hoof along the hiking hill.

Some of the drawings were done by the students themselves. The cover, too.

"It's cool, it's awesome," said student Kennedy Krajack, using the guide with her classmates at Tubbs Hill on Friday afternoon.

Not only that, she said, but a tour book was sorely needed.

"We needed one. Everyone has one. Yellowstone has one, Glacier has one, but we didn't have one."

The school, with the help of the Tubbs Hill Foundation, wants to print at least 100 of them and have them available at City Hall, the library and Chamber of Commerce.

It was the brainchild of artist Jessica Bryant, who teaches art classes at Sorensen. The school received a grant last year to plant box gardens to grow and learn about native plants, soils and seeds. It was such a success they decided to take it one step further, and created the educational guide about native plants and wildlife in their own backyard.

"We want it to be educational," said Kerry Erwin, Sorensen teacher helping lead Friday's tour. "We want to teach them about the impact people have on their environment."

Which is why the tour picked up trash on the hill along the way. And multiple choice questions in the book ask kids, for example, what they should do if they come across an interesting plant, flower, or rock on their hike: A. Take it home. B. Throw it in the water, or C. Leave it where it is?

"Most people take it home or throw it in the water,' said student Ethan Schwegel.

So what's the answer?

"C," he said. "That's like the easiest one in the world."

While Friday was practice tours, the group will be giving tours as part of the Earth Day Fair from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 22 in the Community Room of the Coeur d'Alene Public Library.

Bryant, who designed the book specifically for kids, was out of state Friday and couldn't be reached.

The goal, besides learning, is to make it fun for kids to hike.

Before Michael stopped and found Tony Tubbs' name in the word search, it was getting a little steep on the trail, he said.

"They're killing me," of his feet. "My legs feel like they're going to fall off."

A student answers questions about the impact of visitors to Tubbs Hill during a stop on her class hike.


Nate Willhite, 8, browses through a "Junior Friends of Tubbs Hill" guide Friday before going on a hike with his class.

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