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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

St. Louis Artwork Students Return to the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

Region 3, October 6, 2012
Students from St. Louis Artworks listen to an introduction about the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
Students from St. Louis Artworks listen to an introduction about the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a
Students from St. Louis Artworks listen to an introduction about the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
Students from St. Louis Artworks listen to an introduction about the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a
Pollinator interpretive sign desinged by St. Louis Artwork Students.
Pollinator interpretive sign desinged by St. Louis Artwork Students. - Photo Credit: n/a

St. Louis Artworks made a return trip to the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge on Saturday Oct. 6, 2012. The return trip provided students an opportunity to learn about some of the refuge's invasive species.

Most of the students in the program have rarely ventured out of inner St. Louis and were excited about the adventure to the Boone’s Crossing Unit of the Big Muddy. Located just 14 miles from the heart of the city in the suburb of Chesterfield, the Boone’s Crossing Unit provides a wild retreat in an otherwise urban setting.

Although this is the first time for these students to visit the refuge, it makes the second time for St. Louis Artworks program to visit. Information gained from a previous visit to the refuge’s Cora Island Unit allowed previously enrolled students to design two interpretive signs about pollinators. One interpretive sign highlights a pollinator garden in the City of Chesterfield and the other informs visitors along a trail at the Boone’s Crossing Unit.

Information gained from this most recent visit will allow the students to design interpretive signs about invasive species. One invasive species causing a particular problem in the St. Louis region is bush honeysuckle. Students previously worked in St. Louis’s Forest Park removing it and creatively using the stems for making wreaths. Students also observed the invasive plant at the Boone’s Crossing Unit.

A highlight of the students visit to Boone’s Crossing Unit included a short boat ride across a side channel of the Missouri River to Johnson Island. At 440 acres, Johnson Island contributes over 80 percent of the Boone’s Crossings Units land base. For most of the students the boat ride was their first.

Program Manager Rob Massa of St. Louis Artworks stated, “The trip across the water to the island was a great opportunity, and I believe the kids moved into a whole new realm of possibilities in that short ride. They opened up and saw things that would not have reached them on the trail. I think they will continue to see new things in a whole different way for the rest of their lives.”

A grant obtained from Monsanto Corporation assists in paying the students a small salary and for production of the interpretive signs. The refuge looks forward to working with the students providing a great opportunity to get youth in the outdoors and informing visitors about the threats of invasive species with the interpretive signs they develop.

Contact Info: Tim Haller, 573-441-2799, tim_haller@fws.gov