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Students, Parents, and Teachers Explore Rock Bridge State Park with Missouri Ecological Services Biologists and Staff
Midwest Region, October 16, 2007
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Fish and wildlife biologist Heidi Kuska points out the bare branches of a sycamore tree in Rock Bridge State Park. Students learned to identify trees by fallen leaves on the ground. 
- FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt
Fish and wildlife biologist Heidi Kuska points out the bare branches of a sycamore tree in Rock Bridge State Park. Students learned to identify trees by fallen leaves on the ground.

- FWS Photo by Ashley Spratt

- Photo Credit: n/a
Students, parents, and teachers huddle in a circle around a decomposed log in the middle of the park. Fish and wildlife biologist Rick Hansen and STEP Student Becky Willowood taught students about soil decomposition and the life cycle. 
- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.
Students, parents, and teachers huddle in a circle around a decomposed log in the middle of the park. Fish and wildlife biologist Rick Hansen and STEP Student Becky Willowood taught students about soil decomposition and the life cycle.

- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.

- Photo Credit: n/a
Lee School second graders examine the remains of a decomposed log. 
- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.
Lee School second graders examine the remains of a decomposed log.

- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.

- Photo Credit: n/a
Students hunt for aquatic invertebrates in a creek. Fish and wildlife biologist Andy Roberts and Environmental Contaminants Specialist John Weber showed students how kick-seining the stream can reveal what kinds of species live in the water. 
- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.
Students hunt for aquatic invertebrates in a creek. Fish and wildlife biologist Andy Roberts and Environmental Contaminants Specialist John Weber showed students how kick-seining the stream can reveal what kinds of species live in the water.

- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.

- Photo Credit: n/a
After a full afternoon of exploring the park, students head back to the school buses that will take them back to Lee. 
- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.
After a full afternoon of exploring the park, students head back to the school buses that will take them back to Lee.

- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.

- Photo Credit: n/a
A Lee School student examines a fallen tree with a magnifying glass in Rock Bridge State Park. Students used magnifying glasses, butterfly nets, and ice cube trays to observe invertebrates around the park. 
- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.
A Lee School student examines a fallen tree with a magnifying glass in Rock Bridge State Park. Students used magnifying glasses, butterfly nets, and ice cube trays to observe invertebrates around the park.

- FWS photo by Ashley Spratt.

- Photo Credit: n/a

On Tuesday, October 16th, 56 second graders, 56 packed lunches, eight parent chaperones, and three teachers pulled away from Lee Expressive Arts School parking lot in Columbia, Missouri for a lunch date with Missouri Ecological Services biologists and staff and an afternoon of exploration at Rock Bridge State Park.

 

As the big yellow bus pulled into the Devil’s Ice Box entrance of Rock Bridge State Park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist Heidi Kuska and Office Automation Assistant Ellie Milligan finished tying a cardboard “Sycamore” sign onto the last tree for the leaf identification activity.

 

Biologist Andy Roberts and Environmental Contaminants Specialist John Weber slipped on their knee-high water boots, while fellow biologist Jill Utrup and Administrative Officer Becky Clearwater neatly lined up pink, blue, and green butterfly nets on the grass next to the pavilion.

 

Fish and Wildlife biologist Rick Hansen and Becky Willowood, who works for the Service as part of the Student Temporary Employment Program, inspected a decomposing log they planned to show the children as part of a log life activity.

 

And then the children came. A flood of smiling and laughing faces filled the pavilion. The Lee School cafeteria would be a little calmer, a little quieter, because today, the children would eat lunch under a shaded pavilion in one of the state’s largest parks.

 

With bellies full and energy levels on high, students were divided into four teams and sent off with U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists and staff to hunt down critters of every kind, and learn about the habitats they call home. Students kept a Nature Journal to record their observations at each learning station.

 

At four learning stations, students, parents and teachers interacted with Missouri Ecological Services biologists and staff by participating in group activities and asking thoughtful questions. Students learned how to identify trees in team scavenger hunts by examining fallen leaves on the ground.

 

Students got hands-on with terrestrial invertebrates that assist with the decomposition of a log, and learned how the log’s decomposition is representative of a life cycle. Students also used brightly colored nets to catch flying insects in the woods and learned to identify what they found. Students, parents, and teachers surveyed water spiders, minnows, and other aquatic invertebrates in a stream using ice-cube trays and small nets, while Roberts and Weber kick-seined the water to reveal the many tiny critters that often go unnoticed.

 

The 2007-2008 Columbia Public Schools science curriculum for second graders includes Soils, Secrets of Survival, Changes, Life Cycles of Butterflies, and Chicks and Frogs. U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff applied their expertise to the class curriculum, identifying key concepts of life cycles, decomposition, and aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates in their activities with the students at Rock Bridge State Park.

 

After becoming Partners in Education with Lee Expressive Arts School in early 2007, Missouri Ecological Services has committed to providing Lee students with resources to incorporate nature and the outdoors into their learning environment.

 


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



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