'They're very strong girls' 4H instructor who taught sisters how to survive in wilderness proud of their skills

BENBOW, California -- ABC7 News spoke exclusively to the 4H instructor who taught two young girls the life-saving skills they needed to survive a weekend lost in the woods.

The sisters live in Benbow, in Humboldt County, which is near Richardson Grove State Park, an area known for its majestic redwoods as well as its bears and mountain lions.

Leia Carrico,8, kicked into survival mode when she and her sister Caroline,5, got lost a few miles from their home in Humboldt County. They survived 44 hours, with no food or water, in cold and rainy conditions in a Redwood forest.

RELATED: Northern California sisters talk for first time about surviving 2 days in Humboldt Co. wilderness

Leia said, "We found shelter, a tree branch close to the ground and we had my sister's rain jacket to keep us warm. We turned it sideways so each of us had an armhole that we stuck our arms into."

The girls were rescued on Sunday by two volunteer firefighters, who followed their rain boot tracks.

Their mom, Misty Carrico, says she's not sure her daughters would have survived, if not for their 4H program.

"The group leader Justin has taught them fire making skills and wilderness survival skills."

Justin Lehnert, the girls' 4H leader, said, "I'm ecstatic that they did the job that they did. They're very strong girls and they stayed calm."

Lehnert teaches Leia and Caroline in his 4H outdoor adventure class in Humboldt County. He's proud the girls applied his lessons during their misadventure, like about drinking rainwater off of leaves to stay hydrated.

"Basically a clean source of water if you choose leaves to drink off of, versus drinking out of a creek or someplace that could be contaminated," Lehnert said.

RELATED: Sisters found alive after being lost in Humboldt Co. wilderness
Nine-year-old Caroline Gelormini has been a member of the San Bruno-South San Francisco 4H Program for five years. Thanks to 4H, she feels like she'd have a shot at surviving in the woods, too.

"If you're ever lost and there's a bunch of herbs around, you can know which ones to eat and which ones not to. And they teach you how to survive certain stuff and say there's a coyote or wolf, they teach you what to do if you see it," Gelormini said.

Much of 4H is about taking care of animals and gardens -- all aimed at teaching kid's basic life skills and critical thinking, which is clearly what kept Leia and Caroline alive.
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