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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
NEVADA FWO: Service Joins TNC,School Students for Earth Day Event at McCarron Ranch

Region 8, April 22, 2008
Students from Lincoln Park and Catherine Dunne Elementary Schools explore nature at McCarran Ranch on Earth Day. (USFWS photo)
Students from Lincoln Park and Catherine Dunne Elementary Schools explore nature at McCarran Ranch on Earth Day. (USFWS photo) - Photo Credit: n/a

Jeannie Stafford, Nevada FWO
Over 250 fourth and fifth graders from Catherine Dunn and Lincoln Park Elementary Schools in Washoe County, Nevada, joined the Service's Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) at McCarran Ranch on Earth Day to learn about their environment. This is the first year TNC and the Service have partnered with Washoe County Schools and the event surpassed organizers expectations.

McCarran Ranch, a 300-acre cooperative partnership restoration project situated on the Truckee River just 10 miles east of Reno, proved to be the perfect location for children to participate in hands-on activities teaching them about wetlands, native plants, and river function.

“Looking for new opportunities and expanding existing opportunities to get people back into nature is a high priority for us,” said Bob Williams, Field Supervisor at the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office. “Since this event was so successful we are looking to expand this partnership with TNC and Washoe County Schools in the future.”

Students rotated among three different activities, spending ten minutes at each. They teamed up with a partner and watched as water flowed through straight and curved tubes (simulating rivers) learning about the importance of river meander and function. They threw hula-hoops over vegetation and learned which plants were native to the area, why natives are important, and were awarded a prize for the most diversity within their “ecosystem”. In addition, they were able feel some of the local wetland inhabitants as they put their hands into tubs and watched as pollywogs and small carp swam though their fingers. They were able to view aquatic invertebrates close-up, using magnifying glasses and got to witness first hand mayflies hatching.

In addition to squeals of delight, comments such as: “the fish is so neat, it splashed my friend’s eye,” and “it’s awesome” were heard throughout the day. One of the children stood looking quietly at the river from the trail and thoughtfully said “it looks just like a picture I saw in a magazine once.”

All the activities of the day were documented in the students personal work book/field guides that were created especially for the event by Lisa Gilbertson from TNC.

“It is our hope that we will be able to inspire a conservation ethic in these young people,” said Williams. “We also hope the experience they had at McCarran Ranch will encourage them to get back outside in the future.”

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov