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Quality of Life


Idahoans enjoy a good quality of life. But how do we define it and how has it changed over the years? Quality Of Life traces how the lifestyles of Idahoans have changed over time. Quality Of Life also focuses on Idahoans' relationship with the wilderness and how that has evolved.


After viewing Quality Of Life, students will be able to:

  1. Explain some of the hardships faced by early Idaho settlers and how advancing technology changed their lifestyle
  2. Appreciate Idaho's vast resources and how Idahoans have used them to earn a living.
  3. Describe how people's definition of quality of life has changed over the years.
  4. Understand the need to balance competing interests in Idaho's resources.

Quality Of Life looks at Idahoans' relationship with wilderness and how it has changed. It reviews how Idahoans defined their quality of life at various times in the state's history.

The program begins with the host, Phyllis Edmundson, on Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. She describes the hardships faced by the first Idaho settlers and how the wilderness was thought of as the enemy. Those first settlers found ways to tame this enemy and to improve their quality of life with towns and the trappings of civilization, i.e., the theater, schools, etc. Jobs depended on extracting natural resources. Little else mattered other than making a living.

At the turn of the 20th century, residents began to realize that "nature" had value. Nell Shipman produced silent movies in Idaho to promote that concept. The video shows footage from one of her films. Through tourism, some people learned to make money without destroying the wilderness.

By now, the wilderness had gone from something to be conquered to something to be saved. People's quality of life also changed over those years. That too had an impact on people's priorities.

The video looks at various attempts to set aside parts of Idaho's wilderness as advances in technology have changed everyone's perspectives. It concludes with a discussion of how people try to define their quality of life.


(Before Viewing)

  1. Discuss what "quality of life" means to each individual.
  2. Have students list the various things, i.e., telephones, television, cars, in their life that make things easier. Talk about what it would be like not to have those things.
  3. List all the uses for wilderness.
  4. Display a map of Idaho showing all the different wilderness areas and discuss the impact of those areas on the lives of the students.

(During Viewing)

  1. What is it that makes your life fun?
  2. What is it about Idaho that makes you want to live here?
  3. Why would inventions make a difference in the quality of life?
  4. Why do you think she does that? (Dreena drops a beaver trap into the lake.)
  5. How much of it (the land owned by the government) should be developed and how much should be left alone?
  6. How do you strike that balance?
  7. How much do you set aside?
  8. How much do you develop?
  9. And if you set land aside, how many people can use it for recreation before it gets overused?

Chautauqua - A company or group in the late 1800s that provided entertainment in the form of plays, lectures and concerts
Development - The act of putting something to use
Legislation - A law that is passed by Congress or another body of government
Molybdenum - A metallic element, often used to strengthen steel
Preservation - Protection from loss, damage or decay
Terrain - The physical features of an area of land


(After Viewing)

  1. How was someone's quality of life defined when Idaho was first being settled? How and why did that definition change over the years?
  2. Why did the first settlers consider the wilderness their enemy.? Why did that attitude change over the years?
  3. How have people used wilderness and its natural resources for jobs?
  4. What are the different uses for wilderness and how should we decide which uses have priority?
  1. Have students clip articles from the local newspaper dealing with wilderness issues. After two weeks, have each student summarize the content of the clippings to the class.
  2. Assign students different points in Idaho history and have them research and write a report on what a typical day would have been like for a ten year old.
  3. Visit a national forest. Have students prepare questions in advance about how the government officials maintain the forest. If a trip is impossible, invite a national forest officer to your classroom.
  4. Select a paper product. Have students find out how the product is made and what any variations of that product are like. Find out how and where it is sold. Is it recyclable? If so, how is that done?

Building a Fence

Jeff and Joan want to build a big fence around their 1000 x 1000 foot ranch. But they don't know how many trees they will need to cut down and they don't know how much it will cost. They have come to you for an estimate on tile job. You know the following:

  • A medium sized tree produces 10 fence posts.
  • You need one fence post for every 5 feet of fence.
  • It costs $100 to cut a single tree and haul it to the mill and make 10 fence posts.
  • You need to pay workers $200 to build every 10 feet of fence.
  • The following worksheet will help you determine how many trees you will need to cut and how much it will cost.