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Alaska Bound for Iditarod Conference

Otsego 2nd grade teacher, Cindy Cramer, has been following the Iditarod dog sled race for almost 40 years and her love of the event always becomes a part of her classroom activities during the race. But this year, lessons will come to life in a new way because she’ll be there.

On February 25th, Mrs. Cramer will in Alaska, attending the Iditarod Teacher Conference and helping with the event, an opportunity she saw and couldn’t pass up. “I’ve been wanting to see the Iditarod first hand for a long time. I look forward to meeting and talking with mushers, event staff, and dogs that my classes have been following for years. The Teacher’s Conference gives me added opportunities to learn from other educators that are Iditarod fans.


She has incorporated Iditarod lessons into her classrooms for years and looks forward to new ideas. "Not only will I gain hands-on experience and educational training, but I will have the opportunity to meet with many other educators who share the same passion. I look forward to seeing how they incorporate the Iditarod dog sled racing into their classrooms.”


Her students are just finishing a biography project. She chose three mushers that have a good chance of winning. Each student got to pick one of the three as the one they'll follow during the race and have as the subject of their biography. They've also done a lot of research on the history and rules of the race. “The race was established in 1974 to save the dog sled culture and the Alaskan huskies, which were being phased out with the introduction of snowmobiles in Alaska. It also commemorates the 1925 emergency serum run that we read about in the story of Balto,” Cramer explains.


Along with the regular sessions, the conference includes field trips to see more behind-the-scenes of the event. Attendees will meet the official race artist, and visit with one of the mushers at his/her kennel prior to the race. They’ll also be closely embedded within the race attending a banquet with the mushers and their teams, and attending both the ceremonial and actual the start of the race.


Cramer is also assigned to a vet station where she will help check in dogs and conduct health tests. During the first couple days of the race, she'll assist with communications, taking in data and details on the mushers’ race day; that information is then populated onto the website. “My family devotes lots of time and energy to dogs. I look forward to meeting the real stars of the show; the furry, energetic trained athletes that are the dogs.”


Cramer also plans to head to Nome, Alaska to see the first finishers of this 1,000 mile trek. She’ll be taking pictures and videos and talking with her students all along the way.