Conference badge used by Jen Reiter, Teacher on the Trail 2014, throughout the week long conference leading up to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race by Jen Reiter, Teacher on the Trail, 2014. The Teacher on the Trails program is run by the educational branch of the Iditarod and each year chooses a teacher from among many applicants to follow the dog teams along the trail during the race. The teacher is flown by plane to stops along the trail and visits schools in the Native villages to teach subjects using the Iditarod race as a guide. Teachers from all grades, across the United States compete for the coveted spot by creating lesson plans that integrate the Iditarod through many subjects. The teacher blogs and shares lesson plans throughout the year leading up to the race and is present at the start and finish as well as points along the trail.
The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is an extreme sports challenge that tests the skill and endurance of competitors while celebrating Alaska’s sled dog culture and history. Teams of 12 to 16 dogs, primarily Alaskan Huskies, and their musher experience harsh terrain and weather conditions during the 1,150 mile run from Anchorage to Nome. In its modern iteration as an extreme sport, the Iditarod takes an intense physical toll not only on the human competitors but also on the sled dogs. The race follows a large network of Native trade and travel routes which travelers used when gold was discovered in the isolated town of Iditarod. This discovery led to a “rush” of miners and settlers from across the country, transforming the trail into the region’s main mail and supply route. The area’s harsh winter conditions made sled dog teams the main source of transportation along the Iditarod Trail and it is this rich history which the Iditarod race celebrates today. In 1978 Congress designated the 2300 mile Iditarod Trail as a National Historic Trail recognizing its importance in the shaping of America. Through its beginnings as a regional story, the Iditarod provides us the opportunity to explore the American Experience through the origins of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and the transformation of the Alaskan sled dog culture into an international sport. The Iditarod is now the largest and most prominent sled dog race in the world, attracting international competitors and world-wide media attention.
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