UNION CITY, Ohio — Fourth- through sixth-graders at Mississinawa Valley Elementary gathered in an assembly in the gymnasium morning to hear about “Pulling Together: Team Work and Sled Dogs.”
Presented by Tasha Stielstra, via the Darke County Center for the Arts’ Arts in Education program, the show had her talking about Nature’s Kennel, which she and husband Ed operate in McMillan in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
She explained all about the family’s operation and introduced the students to Rhue, her female Alaskan Husky who she said ran it eight times in the Iditarod from Anchorage to Nome Alaska.
“Rhue has done 1,000 miles five times and runs 5,000-mile ones, with 20,000 miles in her life,”she told the crowd. ” She is 11 years old and is not competitive anymore.”
The Stielstras own 180 dogs, most of them Huskies.
“They are smooth gaiters, strong leaders and they work together,” she said. “I have five full-time stuff who come to my house and learn dog-sledding.”
Then the guest speaker got into the gist of her presentation,making sure the students got the true message of the day…”Pulling Together.”
“There are three rules to follow,” she said. “They are: 1. Be Safe, 2. Be Kind and 3. Be Responsible.
“Be safe and stick together on the trail; sit down in the back; stand in line while waiting for lunch; play safely on the playground; find a safe place to sleep; come quickly when the bell rings; and don’t push and shove while eating.”
“Be kind. Work with all classmates even if they’re annoying; make friends with everyone; share your toys; encourage others; say nice things to your friends; and be nice to your mom.”
“Be responsible. Do your chores; be responsible line leaders; wait patiently for directions; take trash out; wear your uniform and don’t chew it up; wear your winter boots in snow; stay on the trail; use your outside voice only when you are outside; do the dishes; and keep your room clean.”
When it came time to harness Rhue, she asked for some volunteer help from the audience, Deanna Hess put the harness on the dog and Devon Lumpkin put booties on Rhue. Then, Luis Gonzalez-Neels volunteered to participate in setting up the “dogs” for sledding by driving, and all of the students had a chance to see what that was like when they were hooked up to the sled.
Stielstra taught them that “gee” means turn right; “haw” means turn left and “whoa” means stop, and they did several exercises using those terms, all the while learning what it means to “pull together” to achieve success.
This presentation was made to all fourth- through sixth-graders in Darke County schools this past week.
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