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Missouri Ecological Services Plant SEEDS in Young Minds- Columbia, Mo
Midwest Region, April 21, 2007
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Lee School fifth grader wears SEEDS t-shirt, donated by Missouri Ecological Services. 
- USFWS photo by Rick Hansen
Lee School fifth grader wears SEEDS t-shirt, donated by Missouri Ecological Services.

- USFWS photo by Rick Hansen

- Photo Credit: n/a
FWS biologist Heidi Kuska teaches fifth graders about caves and karsts in an outdoor park. 
- USFWS photo by Rick Hansen.
FWS biologist Heidi Kuska teaches fifth graders about caves and karsts in an outdoor park.

- USFWS photo by Rick Hansen.

- Photo Credit: n/a
FWS biologist Jill Utrup interacts with the class in a birds of prey game. 
- USFWS photo by Rick Hansen.
FWS biologist Jill Utrup interacts with the class in a birds of prey game.

- USFWS photo by Rick Hansen.

- Photo Credit: n/a
FWS biologist Andy Roberts shows a shovel-nosed sturgeon to two Lee School fifth graders.
- USFWS photo by Rick Hansen.
FWS biologist Andy Roberts shows a shovel-nosed sturgeon to two Lee School fifth graders.

- USFWS photo by Rick Hansen.

- Photo Credit: n/a

In an ambitious move to combat a growing ‘nature-deficit disorder’ among Boone County youth, Missouri Ecological Services implemented its first ever environmental education program for fifth grade students at Lee Expressive Arts School during National Environmental Education Week in Columbia, Missouri. The program titled SEEDS- Students, the Environment, and Endangered Species- was developed as a response to a challenge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national headquarters to identify ways to connect children and nature within local communities. The SEEDS program, which ran from April 16th to April 21st, brought fish and wildlife biologists and the endangered species they work to protect into the classroom to educate students about wildlife and environmental conservation in Boone County.

On Monday, April 16th, Fish and Wildlife biologist Heidi Kuska took the class to an outdoor park to introduce students to the fascinating world of caves and karsts, and the bat species that call them home. Back in the classroom, Sybill Amalon from the U.S. Forest Service introduced the students to Chewbacca and Pinky, two brown bats. Eleven-year old Lee student Tarus Moore said, “The bat felt really hairy and the wing was kinda smooth, but kinda rough.”

On Tuesday, April 17th, Fish and Wildlife biologist Andy Roberts took students back to the time of the dinosaurs, unveiling a shovel-nosed sturgeon in a mobile tank in the school’s media center. The shovel-nosed sturgeon is a close relative to the prehistoric and endangered pallid sturgeon, and features the same sharp, moustache-like barbells along its mouth.  Roberts also introduced endangered Topeka shiners to the school’s new aquarium, which was donated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Students were surprised to know that these endangered minnows can be found in creeks right in their own back yards. 

On Friday, April 18th, Fish and Wildlife biologist Jill Utrup introduced students to raptors and birds of prey, specifically telling the children about the amazing recovery efforts that have saved the bald eagle from extinction. Towards the end of the presentation, the students were surprised by visitors from the MU Raptor Rehabilitation Center, who brought two real birds of prey, the great-horned owl and American kestrel.

The program culminated in the SEEDS Bookfair, which was held at Barnes and Noble Bookstore in the Columbia Mall on Saturday, April 21st. Teachers, parents, students, and curious onlookers joined in the activities which included story-telling, water-painting, a migratory bird game, and a live shovel-nosed sturgeon tank. The bookfair raised over $400 for the purchase of wildlife books for Lee Expressive Arts School’s media center. 

Throughout the week, various local media including the Columbia Daily Tribune, the Missourian, and KBIA radio covered the events, raising awareness for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its mission to connect children with nature.

Missouri Ecological Services Field Supervisor Charlie Scott said, “SEEDS is a long-term commitment by our office towards ensuring future conservation in Missouri and we hope to expand this program into more and more schools in the near future.”


Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov



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