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ASH MEADOWS NWR: Partnerships Ensure Students Have Ed-Ventures in Southern Nevada
California-Nevada Offices , May 1, 2008
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Ash Meadows NWR and Death Valley NP staff work together to provide environment education during refuge field trips. (photo: Donna Lamm)
Ash Meadows NWR and Death Valley NP staff work together to provide environment education during refuge field trips. (photo: Donna Lamm) - Photo Credit: n/a
Students learn about protective equipment used by scientists while exploring spring water chemistry at Ash Meadows NWR. (photo: USFWS)
Students learn about protective equipment used by scientists while exploring spring water chemistry at Ash Meadows NWR. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Christina Nalen, Ash Meadows NWR
Many school systems were feeling the economic crunch well before the media announced a world-wide recession.  In Nye County Nevada, schools often couldn't afford field trips for their students.  Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was approached by the Southern Nye County Conservation District in 2007 after seeing a couple programs during student field trips to the refuge that spring.  The SNCCD offered to pay for the transportation of students from the local area (Amargosa Valley, Beatty, and Pahrump) if we could continue offering programming on the refuge.

With only one staff member from the refuge available to offer programs, another partnership needed to be in place.  Death Valley National Park education staff had assisted with two field trips to the refuge in 2007.  The park education coordinator promised staff assistance again for the 2008 programs.  With 60 students visiting during any one field trip, help was definitely needed.

Using a curriculum created in conjunction with the park, almost 550 3rd and 4th graders came to the refuge and explored scientific methods of observation and recording, water chemistry, area natural habitat, and artistic expression.  Many of our students had not been to the refuge before and most of them said they would like to bring their family back to the refuge to show them what the students had learned.  We had a very successful education season with helpful evaluations from our participating teachers.

The refuge is already gearing up for the Spring 2009 education season.  We've added a new partner to assist with our efforts this coming year.  Death Valley Natural History Association, a cooperative association of the refuge, received funding from USFWS Ecological Services and through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant that is being put towards the hiring of three education interns and a volunteer who will lead the programming in classrooms and during field trips to the refuge for nearly 600 students.  This change in staff won't replace our partnership with Death Valley National Park but, gives both the refuge and the park more assistance in both of their programs as the refuge education team will have the opportunity to assist with park education programming as well.  SNCCD is also continuing their support through the funding of transportation for students.


Contact Info: Christina Nalen, 775-372-5435, christina_nalen@fws.gov



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