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Friends of Big Muddy kick off the 2010 SummerSeason
Midwest Region, May 11, 2010
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Eldon High School Freshman conducts a presentation at the Overton Bottoms South Shop to the Friends of Big Muddy. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Eldon High School Freshman conducts a presentation at the Overton Bottoms South Shop to the Friends of Big Muddy. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo) - Photo Credit: n/a

Friends of Big Muddy NFWR met on Tuesday, May 11 at the recently obtained Overton Bottoms South Unit. The land was previously managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation who installed a Morton building shop on the premises prior to the USFWS acquisition. The Friends group was able to utilize the shop for this meeting and host two Eldon High School student speakers.

The meeting began with the students’ presentations. Jennifer Wellman, Eldon High School science teacher, is current secretary and very active member of the Friends group. Her students both presented a PowerPoint presentation of science experiments they had carried out and competed with at Lincoln University’s Science fair in Jefferson City, Missouri.

The first speaker, a freshman, presented her experiment on the effect a soil aerator tool had on the growth of fescue grass. The experiment, which took place over one growing season, showed that the soil aerator actually decreased the growth of the fescue field compared to her control field.

The second student, a junior, spoke about a macro-invertebrate study she carried out to test what types of organisms, based on their pollutant tolerance, were more prevalent in creeks in the winter versus the summer. The crowd was very impressed by both students’ presentations and helped advise them on how to strengthen their studies. For more information on Eldon High School’s science program, please see http://www.eldon.k12.mo.us/EHS/Science%20Department/ScienceClub.htm.

After the students finished, Diane Oerly, Friends President, went over business and the group elected new officers. Oerly and Friends are currently working on obtaining a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to encourage birding on the Refuge. Also in the works is the installation of a permanent wildlife observing scope at Rocheport’s Les Bourgeois Winery which sits atop the Manitou bluffs directly across the river from Big Muddy’s Overton Bottoms North Unit.

Also there to speak was Mary Duncan member of the Friends of Arrow Rock, the town where Big Muddy’s Jameson Island Unit is located. She asked the group if they would like to participate in a haunted trail event during Halloween weekend along Big Muddy’s Lewis and Clark trail on the Jameson Island Unit.

 In addition to this event, Friends of Big Muddy plan to participate in several trash pick-ups and Refuge maintenance opportunities. Other events include the first annual Canoe for Clean Water event where they will set up a booth in Huntsdale, Missouri along the Missouri River and across from the Overton Bottoms South Unit of the refuge.  The Friends will also be assisting constructing a trail with Boy Scout Troop 4 from Columbia, Missouri at the Overton Bottoms North Unit of the Refuge. 

The Friends were also introduced to the opportunity to volunteer for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services nationwide refuge system visitor survey.  The Big Muddy was selected as one of the refuges nationwide to be included in this survey.  Big Muddy would like to have volunteers available from July 17 – 31 at the Overton Bottoms North Unit and October 30th to November 13th at the Boone’s Crossing Unit in Chesterfield, Missouri.  Both of these units get the highest visitation during that time of the year according to a survey completed last season using traffic counters installed on the Refuge.    

The Friends of Big Muddy look forward to a successful season fresh with new ideas from the Regional Friends Conference attended by President Diane Oerly.  She expressed some of her new ideas obtained from the conference and looks forward to bringing the Friends of Big Muddy up to the next level of support for the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.      


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



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