SACO (WGME) -- Students at Thornton Academy in Saco can take a very unique science class that is quintessential Maine. Students can learn what it would be like to work for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
At Thornton Academy, two days a week, students can take a unique science elective where they can learn all about the great outdoors.
It's a class called "Maine Fish and Game."
"We've done turkeys, moose and deer now and it's just really fun to learn all that stuff now,” student Allie Gross said.
Students learn everything from the history of wildlife management to mammal identification, but according to the teacher and students, the best part is the hands-on training.
"Getting to see and touch those pelts is huge and then to get outside and see an actual mark and recapture study in action just really drives home the concepts that we're learning in the classroom,” said teacher Josh Delcourt said.
One study involves squirrels. In the class, they are trying to estimate the population on campus.
After trapping the squirrels, they weigh and measure and attach a collar and then release them
"It's definitely a lot more fun because you actually get to see what's going on and how they do it. It just puts on a hands-on experience,” Gross said.
A trail camera is set up across from a feeder where thousands of pictures are taken and students can monitor the visits.
"We use ratio of marked to unmarked squirrels on this feeder to estimate the overall population here on campus,” Delcourt said.
The class has become pretty popular and has inspired a few students to make wildlife science a career.
"Well geez, I love the outdoors in the state of Maine itself, all the species in it. I love to hunt and fish, so I thought the class would be a great fit,” said student Cody Agro,
"I think this class is so important because it helps these kids build an appreciation for wildlife science and look at wildlife and look at the natural world differently. With that appreciation, my hope is that they will make better decisions around the environment and wildlife in general,” Delcourt said.