Yukon Quest champions teach students about dog mushing

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Students were fully immersed in dog sledding Tuesday during the first 'Mushing Day' at Two Rivers School. For the first time at Two Rivers School, seven local dog mushers taught students important aspects of the sport from how to stay warm in 40 below to how to put booties on dogs.

Catherine Push, the principal of Two Rivers School, said that her staff originally came up with the idea.

"I had a teacher come to me and say 'hey, let's try this' and I was like 'alright, let's do it' and then our librarian is Ally Zirkle's sister, and so it's great connections, and all these mushers jumped on board to help us out. So it's really cool," said Push.

Students were excited to be around some local celebrities and asked for autographs from all of the mushers such as Yukon Quest champion Matt Hall.

"It's awesome to be able to come down and just help out and see the love of the sport for the kids as well, how excited they get and the questions they have and wanting to learn and it just opens up the world for the sport all the more," said Hall.

In Two Rivers, dog mushing is a big part of their community, and later in the afternoon parents and volunteers came out to take the students on dog sled rides.

"A lot of our kids are already familiar with dog mushing and this is home, so it's really a place-based learning for them, learning about what their community does, and it's a great community connection for the school and our mushers and community members," said Push.

The presenters for the day are racing dog mushers. They are in the thick of preparing for two of the most famous races the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod. Push was grateful for the mushers who volunteered their time.

"The caliber of mushers we have out here is amazing, and for them to give up their time, in the middle of race season, to come out here and help our kids and be a part of our school, is fantastic," said Push.

While taking time out of his day to teach, Matt Hall is still busy getting ready for the Yukon Quest, which starts just over a week away.

"It's go time right now. It's like okay, grab some lunch, go home, take the sled off the truck and then just go run dogs right away," said Hall.

For some of these mushers, their passion for dog sledding started when they were young, spreading the love of the sport to the next generation. Push says she is hoping to continue this event because it was such a great success.